Quotes: Epitaphs

(statement that lies above about the one who lies below)

epitaph (EP i taf") (s) (noun), epitaphs (pl)
1. An inscription on a tombstone or monument commemorating the person buried there; occasionally, a brief composition characterizing a deceased person, and expressed as if intended to be inscribed on his tombstone: "After the accident in space, the students in the science exploration class were asked to write epitaphs about each of the astronauts who died."
2. A short speech or piece of writing celebrating the life of a recently deceased person: "The politician was asked to read the epitaph that the newspaper editor had written honoring the local city mayor who had died last week."

"An elegy is also known as a commemoration or a memoir for someone who has passed on."

"Sometimes an epitaph is a monumental lie."

Inscription on a tomb stone or a monument.
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Pluto and his underworld kingdom

In the mythological age of the Roman gods, the world was divided into regions, each ruled by a god. The Infernal Regions, Hades, Death, and Cemeteries fell to the governance of Pluto, son of Cronus and Rhea.

As a reward for this rather solemn obligation, he was given the guardianship of riches, of all the precious metals, and stones that are buried deep in the earth.

The appearance of Pluto on earth was never a happy event, because his mission was always to take back to his kingdom the spirits of the dead. Riding up from the bowels of the earth in a chariot drawn by four coal-black steeds, he inspired fear in the hearts of humans.

Pluto's kingdom was almost impossible to reach without his permission, since it was located deep in the underworld guarded by huge Cerberus, the three-headed dog.

Near Pluto's throne were placed the seats of his three judges, Aeacus, Minos, and Rhadamanthus, who questioned the newly-arrived souls. These hearings were enacted before Themis, the blindfolded, impartial goddess, whose sword of justice hung above the new arrvials.

If the souls were proven to be good, they were led away to the Elysian Fields; if not, they were forever committed to the infernal regions of Tartarus. While the souls were being judged, Pluto, it is said, amused himself by writing their epitaphs.

—Compiled from "Tribute to Pluto"
in A book of Epitaphs by Raymond Lamont Brown;
Taplinger Publishing Company, Inc.; New York; 1967; page 13.


In life, we weep at the thought of death.

Perhaps in death we weep at the thought of life.

—Earl Carroll

Si moumentum requiris, circumspice.

If you seek his monument, look around you.

—Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral,
London; as seen on his grave stone.


The memory of

Micah Hall, Gentleman,

Attorney at Law,

Who died on the 14th of May, 1804,

Aged 79 years.

Quid eran nescitis: What I was you know not;

Quid sum, nescitis: What I am you know not;

Ubi abii, nescitis: Whither I am gone you know not;

Valete. Farewell.

—The Attorney,
Castleton, in the Peak District.

After Benjamin Franklin’s death, an epitaph that he wrote when he was twenty-three years old was found among his papers. Although it was not chiseled on his tomb stone, it is quoted here:

The body of B. Franklin


Like the cover of an old book its contents torn out,

And stripped of its lettering and gilding,

lies here, food for worms,

But the work shall not be wholly lost;

for it will, as he believed, appear once

more in a new and more perfect edition,

corrected and amended by the Author.

—Samuel M. Lindsay

My sledge and hammer lie declined,

My bellows-pipes have lost their wind,

My fire's extinct, my forge decay'd,

My vice is in the dust now laid;

My coal is spent, my iron's gone,

My nails are drove, my work is done,

My fire-dried corpse here lies at rest,

My soul, smoke-like, soars to be blest.

—This Blacksmith's Epitaph, written by the poet Hayley;
has proven to be a favorite with blacksmiths.
Among other places, it appears in the churchyards of Rochdale, Bothwell,
Feltham, and Westham.

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Word Info cross references to bury, burial, cemetery, grave; sleeping place words. Cross references of word groups that are related, directly or indirectly, to: "bury, burial, cemetery, grave; sleeping place": coimetro-; funer-; sepulc-; sheol; tapho-.