ISBN 1 902701 14 X
248 x 170mm
Cambridge Inscriptions Explained
by Patricia Easterling, Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge (1994-2001)
What makes inscriptions so attractive? Perhaps the fact that they are always more than pieces of information, marking out for the people of a locality the significance of something tangible a building, a headstone, the site of some event. Part of their charm lies in their brevity and sometimes their strangeness: inscriptions are typically brief and often enigmatic, whether playful or solemn, and for all these purposes Latin is a long-time favourite, a 'lapidary' language without the fussiness of definite and indefinite articles. Old university cities make particularly good hunting grounds for the odder or more arcane sorts of inscriptions, and there are intriguing Cambridge examples in the collection assembled and explained here.
Like the inscriptions themselves, the author's comments condense a great deal of research and observation into a small compass. Her remarks on the 'five dignified words' adorning the Scott Polar Research Institute [p92] or on 'Ring True' on the drainpipes at Wolfson College [p81] or 'The Missing Maidens' on the ceiling of the Gatehouse at Jesus College [p83] will add to the enjoyment of anyone's visit. Even the best informed of long-term Cambridge residents will look with a fresh eye at familiar inscriptions like 'Ne vile velis' above Magdalene gateway [p62].