Classical Ink II

None of you classically-inked types have taken up my request for submissions of your bodyart yet, so we’ll post one that showed up in another blog (tip o’ the pileus to Francesca Tronchin via Twitter for this one):

via archaeopop

That one is from Archaeopop, which is always worth a look …

As long as we’re talking ink, I should mention a couple of examples of ‘bad latin’ in tattoos which I caught my eye on my recent sojourn to Calgary (which has considerably less ink than Hamilton, Ontario … and more teeth too). T’other night, e.g., we were taking in the Calgary Stampeders’ annihilation of the Edmonton Eskimos while seated beside someone who — among other bits of bodyart — had “Ago celer” on his forearm. I suppose he wants to say “I drive fast”, and technically this isn’t incorrect, per se, but it really means “I drive as a fast man” … “celeriter” would have been a better word choice (I was tempted to suggest he add that on, but it would have ruined the symmetry of the text). Of course, it might mean “I do it as a fast man”, which might have connotations one wouldn’t want permanently inscribed on their forearm.

The other bit of ink that caught my eye was on a nipple-pierced fellow ‘taker of the waters’ at the hotsprings pool in Banff, Alberta. This guy was sporting the phrase ‘memento moris’ (it might have been ‘mortis’ … it was a really elaborate font … when he drove past us later with his arm hanging out the window, I still couldn’t make it out) … now did that guy think he was having “memento mori” tattooed? Or did he really intend to have the genitive of either ‘death’ or ‘custom’? And while there probably is some disagreement among folks whether “mori” is just the infinitive (and possibly accusative) or whether it is an abbreviation of something like ‘te moriturum’, I really can’t make sense of this particular tattoo … does ‘memento’ ever take the genitive?

One thought on “Classical Ink II

  1. ‘Memini’ can indeed take the genitive, when meaning “To be mindful of, keep in mind, heed to, attend to” – it’s definition 3b in the OLD, which lists examples from Plautus, Cicero, Lucretius, Vergil, and Livy, among several others. There aren’t any examples with ‘memento’ specifically, but it’s hardly a common form outside of the phrase ‘memento mori.’

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