Latin Conundrum

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Inscription Outside Columbia’s Law Library, New York City


The Latin on this plaque is great: “The monuments of the architect look down from above throughout the years.” Nice thought, right? The real magic with this Latin phrase is the careful consideration of meter. Shakespeare was a master of iambic pentameter (e.g., “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”), but for many poets from antiquity, the dactylic hexameter was the weapon of choice. (You can listen to a rather…enthusiastic recitation of it here.) McKim’s plaque, too, follows this metrical pattern. I leave the extra-credit scanning for you budding Latinists out there.

quote above from this site

photograph mine

Funerary Inscription, Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City

[a different one from the previous entry]


Under this marble are placed the remains of Eleonore, wife of Sigismund Hugget, soldier (arm-bearer?) from New York, born in the city of Lincoln, Great Britain, whose piety, tireless before God, whose faith, constant before friends, whose love, undiminished for her husband, whose courtesy to friends, whose generosity to those in need, whose kindness to all you might see, this age scarcely had an equal, and no one superior. She died 3 December, 1745, at the age of 57.

[struggling to figure out the two ‘si’s; perhaps some sort of conditional about the this age, i.e. if this age had scarcely an equal, then it certainly had no one superior?]

[interesting too the spectes in the fourth from the bottom line; seems to be a compressed relative clause the way that English would do it but not Latin: ‘all you see’; wondering if that’s because of space constraints? or a mistake / misunderstanding of Latin structures]