Monday, May 14, 2007


Memento Mori

Pindar, Nemean Odes 11.13-16 (tr. William H. Race):
But if a man possessing riches surpasses others in beauty of form,
and in contests displays his strength by winning,
let him remember that mortal are the limbs he clothes
and that earth is the last garment of all he will wear.

εἰ δέ τις ὄλβον ἔχων μορφᾷ παραμεύσεται ἄλλους,
ἔν τ' ἀέθλοισιν ἀριστεύων ἐπέδειξεν βίαν,
θνατὰ μεμνάσθω περιστέλλων μέλη,
καὶ τελευτὰν ἁπάντων γᾶν ἐπιεσσόμενος.
The clothing metaphor also appears in 1 Corinthians 15.53-54, although in a different sense:
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

δεῖ γὰρ τὸ φθαρτὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσασθαι ἀφθαρσίαν καὶ τὸ θνητὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσασθαι ἀθανασίαν. ὅταν δὲ τὸ φθαρτὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσηται ἀφθαρσίαν καὶ τὸ θνητὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσηται ἀθανασίαν, τότε γενήσεται ὁ λόγος ὁ γεγραμμένος, Κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος.
I don't see the clothing metaphor mentioned in the table of contents of Richmond Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (rpt. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1963), a book which I wish had an index locorum.

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