For some time now, Agincourt has needed an official seal, something lofty, noble, and, of course, in a dead language. It says a great deal that my first inclination was the Addams family motto: Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc, or in English, “We gladly feast on those who would subdue us”. There is a difference of opinion about the correctness of the Latin, however, a quite learned analysis proposing something quite different.
On a higher plane, my second thought was the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Wren is, in fact, interred in the cathedral crypt, more appropriate for him perhaps than many of the other worthies spending eternity there. The plaque on the wall modestly advises: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. Given the place and the reverence felt in Britain for Sir Christopher, I have to believe the Latin here is exemplary. It’s English translation never ceases to bring a lump to my throat: “If ye seek a monument, look about you”, for what greater memorial to Wren could there be but St Paul’s.
Lofty or evocative phrases of this sort aren’t new to the project. When thinking about the public cemetery at the east edge of town, The Shades, I asked a friend Carol Andreini to compose the correct Patristic Greek equivalent for the admonition I’d envisioned at the cemetery entrance: τεθνήκαμεν. σώζετε δάκρυα ζώσιν or “We are dead. Save tears for the living”.
Which brings me to the requirement du jour: Agincourt needs a motto. My own hometown Chicago boldly (or is that baldly?) states “I Will”, though those words could describe civic pride as well as political chicanery. What, do you suppose should represent Agincourt’s aspiratory reflections? Recommendations will be gratefully received.
I’m currently drawn to “quamquam viae circuitus, autem semita recta est”. “Though the road is crooked, the path is straight.”