Latin Conundrum

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Inscription Outside Columbia’s Law Library, New York City

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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

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[note the typo in conjux; ouch to skip a letter in such a permanent medium]

To the memory of my most beloved wife Christine (?) / Christiana, whom, released by death in the 48th year of her life (up to the 48th year of her life) (March 27 (yes?), 1816), her grieving husband, George W. Chapman, a doctor, venerates with this marble inscription and attests to her virtues. May she rest in peace.

Lesley University Motto – Uh Oh

I was researching mottoes that use the pluperfect subjunctive and came across Lesley University’s: perissem ni perstitissem. I checked the Wikipedia page for an image and there was none but they did have a translation: ‘I had perished had I not persisted’. Ok. Not quite right. So I edited it to reflect the conditional (which also happens to make more sense): ‘I would have perished had I not persisted’. So then I hit Google to try to find an image. And came across this:

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Now, it’s one thing for a motto to be incorrect on a Wikipedia page or even a relatively easily editable source (web page, document, etc.). But to paint it on the wall of the fitness center? Oof. That seems like a lot. I’m not wrong here, am I? I tend to be pretty flexible in terms of what I allow and assuming that a mistake wasn’t made (even when I’m pretty sure it was), but this seems pretty unavoidable.