A Latin inscription in the Pantheon

Under another entry, where I posted the photo of the oculus of the Pantheon at night, someone quoted the Latin inscription on the tomb of the famous painter Raffael Sanzio (which is, of course, in the Pantheon).

Here is the inscription.

ILLE HIC EST RAPHAEL: TIMUIT QUO SOSPITE VINCI RERUM MAGNA PARENS ET MORIENTE MORI.

Let’s see what some of you can make of this tricky and elegant phrase.

Please, folks… if you know this already, don’t spoil it.  Allow others the pleasure of working it out.

The inscription is across the top of the sarcophagus.

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18 Responses to A Latin inscription in the Pantheon

  1. Londiniensis says:

    Alexander Pope’s translation, used in his epitaph for Kneller’s tomb, is the best known (and probably the best stab at a poetic translation). However, Dr Johnson didn’t like it: “… not only borrowed from the epitaph on Raphael, but of a very harsh construction.” Critics, eh?

  2. Berolinensis says:

    ILLE HIC EST RAPHAEL: TIMUIT QUO SOSPITE VINCI RERUM MAGNA PARENS ET MORIENTE MORI.

    That one here is Raphael: While he was alive (lit. unharmed), the great mother of things (i.e. nature) feared to be vanquished by him, and that at his death (lit. him dying) she should die.

  3. Scott says:

    Here lies the famous Raphael: During whose life, the great begetter of things feared lest she be overcome, And at whose death Nature herself feared lest she die with him.

  4. Raphaela says:

    Ah, Berolinensis, Fr. Z did ask people not to give the game away!

    But as the cat’s out of the bag, I’ll volunteer that “ille” would be better rendered as “the famous” rather than “that one”; I’d have said “Here lies (lit.: is) the famous Raphael”.

  5. Raphaela says:

    Ah, Berolinensis, Fr. Z did ask people not to give the game away!

    But as the cat’s out of the bag, I’ll volunteer that “ille” would be better rendered as “the famous” rather than “that one”; I’d have said “Here lies (lit.: is) the famous Raphael”.

  6. LCB says:

    Fr. Z quoted me quoting someone else. I’m famous!

  7. Berolinensis says:

    Raphaela: I am sorry, I thought he meant if you had read the inscription and a translation before, which I hadn’t. Father, please feel free to delete my post.

  8. Volpius says:

    “Here lies that (famous) Raphael. While he lived, mother nature feared to be surpassed; now dead, she fears she herself will die.”

  9. Gavin says:

    The ICEL translation: “ZOMG Tehrz a dedd dude hear!!1″

    Actually I’d be interested in hearing the story behind that inscription. Very fascinating.

  10. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Here lies the famous Raphael: by whom, while alive, Mother Nature feared defeat, and with whom, upon his death, she feared herself to die.

  11. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Here’s one I find through Google while looking for A. Pope’s maligned translation:

    Mr. Warton Harrison, New College Oxford, a favourite of Swift:
    Here Raphael lies by whose untimely end
    Nature both lost a rival and a friend

    (The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope By Alexander Pope)

  12. Fr. Joe says:

    ICEL Translation: Raphael is dead. He was a good artist. God, give him rest.

  13. James M says:

    “Rafael got ill with hiccups: but he spits on fear, overcoming great things, like parents and early death.”

    How is that for slavishly accurate! (I confess, ‘thanks’ are due to state-of-the-art Internet auto-translations.)

  14. Londiniensis says:

    The Pope translation which I was thinking of (the last couplet of his epitaph composed for Kneller’s tomb in Westminster Abbey “borrowed” from Cardinal Bembo):

    “Living, great Nature fear’d he might outvie
    Her works; and dying, fears herself may die.”

    And here is Thomas Hardy’s effort:

    “Here’s one in whom Nature feared -faint at such vying -
    Eclipse while he lived, and decease at his dying.”

  15. Kevin Fogarty says:

    One thing that gave me a little trouble is that in the ablative of agent with a person you would have expected “a quo” instead. Have you often seen it otherwise?

  16. Kevin Fogarty says:

    Never mind. It’s an ablative absolute isn’t it?

  17. Josiah says:

    “ICEL Translation: Raphael is dead. He was a good artist. God, give him rest.”
    LOL.
    Typical ICEL transliteration, made for second graders.

  18. Bostonian says:

    ICEL Translation: Dactylic tetrameter confuses the laity.