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Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Exeter Cathedral, Corpus, a clock and Martial

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Before the Confraternity meeting this morning, I had a chance to look around Exeter Cathedral which is in the decorated gothic style and, according to the website has the "longest uninterrupted medieval gothic vaulting in the world." That seems quite a bit of qualification: perhaps there is some really long medieval but non-gothic vaulting somewhere? Anyway, this photo shows some of the celebrated ceiling:

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Bishop Oldham (died 1519), who assisted Bishop Foxe in the founding of my college, Corpus Christ, Oxford, is buried with a bright polychrome monument:

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Another Corpus man, about whom I would be less enthusiastic, was the Anglican Divine Richard Hooker, though I should be lenient about him because he was criticised by the puritans for arguing that some Roman Catholics could be saved. As he was born in Exeter, there is a statue of him outside the Cathedral:

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The Astronomical Clock is a special feature: it shows the position of the sun and the phases of the moon. The minute hand above was a later addition. I suppose people got more busy and needed appointments more specific than "some time around ten." The inscription PEREUNT ET IMPUTANTUR is an allusion to a phrase in Martial's epigrams (V.20) and means literally "they perish and are imputed." It refers to the hours that pass by and are set down against us - scilicet - if we waste them.

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The epigram of Martial is too good not to set down in full for those who love the Latin language:
Si tecum mihi, care Martialis,
Securis liceat frui diebus,
Si disponere tempus otiosum
Et verae pariter vacare vitae:
Nec nos atria, nec domos potentum,
Nec litis tetricas forumque triste
Nossemus, nec imagines superbas;
Sed gestatio, fabulae, libelli,
Campus, porticus, umbra, Virgo, thermae,
Haec essent loca semper, hi labores.
Nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque
Soles effugere atque abire sentit,
Qui nobis pereunt et inputantur.
Quisquam vivere cum sciat, moratur?
If you know some Latin but the classical poetry is a bit challenging, there is a translation at CCEL that can guide you through with the help of Lewis and Short's dictionary.

[Parental Advisory: if your child is learning Latin, you need to know that many of Martial's epigrams are very explicitly obscene jokes.]
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