Phrases used as mottos on Sundials

(priamarily in Latin, some in French and Italian)

WHAT an antique air had the now almost effaced sun-dials, with their moral inscriptions, seeming coevals with that Time which they measured, and to take their revelations of its flight immediately from Heaven, holding correspondence with the fountain of light! How would the dark line steal imperceptibly on, watched by the eye of childhood, eager to detect its movement, never catched, nice as an evanescent cloud, or the first arrests of sleep!..

What a dead thing is a clock, with its ponderous embowelments of lead and brass, its pert or solemn dullness of communication, compared with the simple altar-like structure and silent heart-language of the old dial ! It stood as the garden god of Christian gardens. Why is it almost every where vanished ? If its business-use be superseded by more elaborate inventions, its moral uses, its beauty, might have pleaded for its continuance. It spoke of moderate labours, of pleasures not protracted after sunset.

Charles Lamb. Essays of Elia

See also:
Latin quotes and sayings

A LUMINE MOTUS - Moved by light

ABSQUE SOLE, ABSQUE USU - Without sun, without use

AGE QUOD AGIS - Do what you are doing

ALIIS INSERVIENDO CONSUMOR - By serving others, I am worn away

ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS - Art lasts, life is short

ASPICE ET ABI - Look (at me) and pass on

ASPICE ME - Look upon me

BULLA EST VITA HUMANA - Human life is a bubble

DEO FAVENTE - With God's favour

DEUS ADEST LABORANTIBUS - God favors the diligent

DEUS EST LUMEN LUMINIS - God is the light of light

DIES DIEM TRUDIT - Each day forces out another day

DISCE BENE VIVERE & MORI - Learn to live well and to die well

DISCE DIES NUMERARE TUOS - Learn to value your days

DUM SPECTAS FUGIO - I flee even as you observe me

EX HOC MOMENTO PENDET AETERNITAS - Eternity is hinged upon this moment

FESTINA LENTE - Make haste slowly


HOMO QUASI UMBRA - A man is like a shadow

HORA PARS VITAE - Every hour is a part of life

ICH DIEN - I serve (German)

ILLINC DISCE MORI - Learn to live on this side, learn to live on the other side (i.e. of the sundial)

IN COELO QUIES - In heaven is rest

IO VADE E VEGNO OGNI GIORNO, MA TU ANDRAI SENZA RITORNO - I go and come every day, but thou shalt go without returning (Italian)

ITA VITA - Thus (passes) life

LABOR IPSE VOLUPTAS - Labor contains pleasure

last one to shine upon you

LEX DEI, LUX DEI - The law of God, the light of God

MORA TRAHIT PERICULUM - Delay engenders perils

MUNDI OCULUS - The eye of the world

NE QUID PEREAT - Let nothing be lost

NEMO SINE CRIMINE VIVIT - Nobody lives sinlessly

NIL SINE NOBIS - Nothing exists without us

NON NOBIS NATI SUMUS - We are not born for ourselves

NON REDIBO - I shall not return

NON SINE LUMINE - Not without light

NOSCE TEIPSUM - Know thyself


OMNIA FALCE METIT TEMPUS - Time reaps everything with its sickle

OMNIA FERT AETAS - Time brings all things

OMNIBUS LUCET - It shines for all

PER I FELICI ED I TRISTI SEGNO UGULAMENTE LE ORE - For the happy and the sad, I mark the hours alike (Itaian)

POST TENEBRAS SPERO LUCEM - I hope for light after darkness


QUALIS VITA, FINIS ITA - Each life has an end that suits it

QUID CELERIUS TEMPORE? - What is swifter than time?

SAPIENTIS EST NUMERARE - It is the wise who count

SENZA PALAR DA TUTTI SON INTESO. SENZA PALESO FAR RUMOR L'ORA - Without speaking, I am understood by all, without a noise, I reveal the hour (Italian)

SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI - Thus passes the glory of this world


SINE UMBRA NIHIL - Without shadow nothing

SOL DEUS VISIBILIS, DEUS SOL INVISIBILIS - The Sun is the visible god, God the invisible sun

SOL REGIT OMNIA - The sun rules all

SUB SOLE VANITAS - Vanity under the sun

TEMPUS AD LUCEM DUCIT VERITATEM - Time brings truth to light

ULTIMA DECIDET - The last one decides

UMBRA DEI - The shadow of God

UMBRA! QUID ASPICIS? UMBRAM - Shadow! What seest thout? Shadow

UNAM TIME - Fear one hour

VENI, VIDE, VALE - Come, see, farewell

VERITAS TEMPORIS FILIA - Truth is the daughter of time

VIA VITAE - The road of life

VIGILATE & ORATE, TEMPUS FUGIT - Be vigilant and pray, for the time hastes away

VOICI VOTRE HEURE - Here is your hour (French)

VOS ESTIS LUX MUNDI - You are the light of the world

See also:
Instructions on making a simple sundial with Roman numerals
Garden design ideas from different historic times