Gnothi seauton

γνῶθι σεαυτόν!

Artist… know thyself.

It could be that this is actually a commentary on the quality of most modern art.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. donantebello says:

    “Art in the middle ages was ‘art for God’s sake’, art in the Renaissance was ‘art for man’s sake’, art in the 19th century was ‘art for art’s sake,’ now art in the 20th century is ‘no art, for God’s sake.”
    -G. K. Chesterton

  2. Sacristymaiden says:

    I love the Chesterton quote! How appropriate.
    The cartoon is hilarious! It is how I often feel when observing modern “art”.
    What does “Gnothi Seauton” mean? Am I correct in assuming it is Greek?

  3. pelerin says:

    As a former art student, I love this cartoon! I often don’t get the Savage Chicken jokes as they are American but this one is international.

    There is a story of a very celebrated artist who was sitting in his kitchen one day surrounded by some of his work when the postman paid him a visit. Glancing at the paintings he commented ‘Oh so the children paint as well do they!’

  4. Marius2k4 says:

    Sacristymaiden, if my very poor command of Greek serves me, “gnothi seauton” is “know thyself”… I recognize the “gno” from “gnosis” (knowledge), and it feels sort of like an imperative, having had Latin, and “auton” is a pronoun, with “se”, I’m assuming, making it reflexive.

    I’d be much more comfortable with “gnosce teipse” in the Latin, but it looks as though it’s a similar construction in Greek.

    So… to anyone who knows more Greek than they picked up in the first few chapters of Athenaze, how close am I?

  5. Anne C. says:

    Marius2k4: Whatever language it is must not be in Google Translate! ; ) You are most likely correct, if those letters are the English version of Greek letters . . . The two words at the beginning of the post (above the cartoon) did translate from Greek to English (in Google Translate), meaning “know thyself!”

  6. David L. says:

    This poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is relevant here:

    “Self-Knowledge” -1832

    –E coelo descendit ????? ???????.–JUVENAL, xi. 27.

    ????? ???????!–and is this the prime
    And heaven-sprung adage of the olden time!–
    Say, canst thou make thyself?–Learn first that trade;–
    Haply thou mayst know what thyself had made.
    What hast thou, Man, that thou dar’st call thine own?–
    What is there in thee, Man, that can be known?–
    Dark fluxion, all unfixable by thought,
    A phantom dim of past and future wrought,
    Vain sister of the worm,–life, death, soul, clod–
    Ignore thyself, and strive to know thy God!

  7. David L. says:

    Hm, I’m certain that the Greek characters for “gnothi seauton” showed up in the preview. Where did they go?

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