Latin Quotes, Sayings, Tattoos, Phrases & Mottos

Most texts and materials on this site have to do with the Latin language, including its perception in popular culture: movies, tattoos, inscriptions, engravings, bits of ancient philosophy, online Latin resources and company names. There is also information about learning Latin and Greek: textbooks, dictionaries, DVDs and software that can be used in a homeschooling environment.

Gods in color - painted ancient sculpture exhibit

Saturday, November 10, 2007, 09:03 - Fine Arts, World History: Ancient, Medieval & Modern, Reviews
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image from

An outstanding exhibit (organized by the Stiftung Archäologie and the Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich), presently at Harvard. It is well-known that the white color, so familiar to any student of antiquity, was not at all a feature of classical Greek and Roman art. Instead, sculptures and buildings were routinely painted. Traces of various pigments can still be detected, which allowed this beautiful set of reconstructions to be created, displaying the full color of ancient sculpture. I was unable to find any images that would even remotely convey these bright vibrant colors. This exhibit must be seen in person! ... Color.html
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Temple Church inscription

Ah, mysteries...

I decided to revisit a little mystery about an inscription on the church at Temple (not far from Rosslyn, if I am not mistaken).
The inscription can be seen in all its high-resolution glory here: ... /STONE.JPG

A gentleman by the name of Jeff Nisbet attempted to prove that VAESAC stands for CAUSAE, and that MIHM stands for something like Maria Iesus Heres Magdalen (sic). The letters RI that one might believe are seen on the other side of the stone were interpreted by him as somehow referring to the Templars' pre-columbian voyages to America.

That sort of thing is enough to make one's brain hurt... Nevertheless, I found some additional information about this inscription in Notes and Queries (where else?).

In 1901 N&Q republished a note from Daily News:

The late Duchess of Cleveland, while Lady Dalmeny, was (says a correspondent) very much interested by the inscription, which has never been satisfactorily explained, which in letters of lead is on the stone of the belfry of the ruined ancient church of Temple, just outside the boundary of the Rosebery property in Midlothian. It reads thus: 'Vaesac Mihm." Daily News, 20 May.

Can any one suggest an explanation?

In a few months this reply was received (9th S. VIII Aug.10, 1901):

Vaesac Mihm (9th S. viii. 45) - I believe that the inscription leaded into one of the corner stones in the east gable bellow the belfry of the old church at Temple reads


There is a somewhat similar inscription, with a date on a stone in the gable of the very old stone-roofed portion of the church of Abercorn in Linlithgowshire, this: -
M.H.I.M. 1612

J.L. Anderson

I find it interesting that these people, who undoubtedly saw the inscription in a better condition than it is today, did not note the letters RI that some believe exist now.

Other than that I can only honestly say that for a fee I am willing to produce absolutely any imaginable interpretation of the inscriptions above.

How to read books in Latin

Friday, November 9, 2007, 14:39 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Language, Reviews, Software
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Obviously, you need to know Latin. There is no cutting corners here, and this is not what I am going to discuss. Instead, I will share my experiences with paperless books. Classicists are particularly blessed with a large number of Latin texts available free of charge on the Internet. It would be ridiculous to even talk about the many sites where you can download Virgil, Ovid, Catullus, Cicero, Sallust - you name it. For years I have been using Casio E100 - probably the first full color PDA that every came out (Windows CE). I still have it and it works great, except there is just not enough memory (16mb) and dealing with serial connections in the world of USB is kinda silly. So, not too long ago I upgraded to T-Moble MDA (aka HTC Wizard, if I am not mistaken) - A Windows Mobile device. I have a 2gb card in it, so there is a lot of space for my books. I also have a 4gb card, but apparently I have to wait for a firmware update in order for MDA to support mini SD cards over 2 gb. Something about the limitations of the file system... Anyway, I use a program called Haali Reader. It supports a lot of different formats. You can even open compressed files with it. Of course, there are many readers out there, and I have a few of them installed on my MDA: Mobipocket, AlReader. However, Haali has one very neat feature. You can make a simple dictionary and go to it with a tap of a stylus (or a finger, really) if you just can't remember some rare word. I don't have a very good Latin dictionary in plain text format, but I used one of those wordlists that have been floating around for years. It's been somewhat helpful, although personally I would not mind some "real" Latin dictionary. Maybe I will compile something one day using one of the old Latin dictionaries that are starting to appear in the public domain.

Now, there is also a program called Antiquarium which is supposed to work on any Windows Mobile device with TLG and PHI. I am a lucky owner of PHI (and so should be anyone who is into Latin at all, because it only cost me $50). Unfortunately, the demo version of Antiquarium for Windows Mobile did not seem to work on my device.

So, that's the present. In the future I hope to upgrade to one of the Sony Readers. Like the currently available Sony PRS-500 Portable Reader System. I am not too crazy about the quality, but I am sure it will improve. Most likely, I will wait for a technological breakthrough, just like in the case with Casio E100. The biggest advantage of this device would be easy access to PDF files. This would probably solve all my ebooks-related problems once and for all.

Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 12:20 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Language, Latin Translation
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It appears that 'magorium' (magorium sambac, sumbac, zambuc) is something better known as Arabian Jasmine. Muhammad Sharif Khan describes this flower as "sweet and cool, and of a pleasant smell; raises the spirits; removes bile; improves weakness of sight, affections of the mouth, and ulcers" (Taleef shereef or Indian materia medica, Oxford 1833, p. 161).

Magorium, of course, is a latinized form of 'Mogra', which is a name of a town in India. However, it is probably rather pointless to speculate on the significance of Mr. Magorium's name, since it is probably supposed to be reminiscent of 'magus'. Just another somewhat Potterian Latin-sounding concoction.

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