Reading Latin Epitaphs: A Handbook for Beginners
Date of publication:
Publisher: The Exeter Press
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This compact book reproduces fifty-two memorials in Latin taken from churches situated (largely, but not exclusively, in the West Country). Each memorial is accompanied by a translation and by notes on the grammar.
The book is aimed at all who would like to be able to read Latin epitaphs in churches, and whose knowledge of the language may be sketchy.
The introduction explains the conventions involved in lettering, abbreviations, Latinized personal names, and stock phrases. It is followed by a very brief Latin grammar and notes on Roman numerals and dates. At the back of the book there is a word list containing all those words found in the inscriptions with numbered references, plus a selection of words which are commonly found in inscriptions generally, though not in those printed here.
By combining these resources in one book, the author equips the reader with the tools to tackle other epitaphs beyond the pages of this book and further afield.
Every attempt is made to help the reader understand the context in which each inscription was composed. For instance it is stressed that the composers of such epitaphs were skilled Latin scholars, and that there are very few errors to be seen.
Errors attributable to the stonemasons or sign-writers are noted and corrected.
This book contains a representative selection of epitaphs, and presents the basics of Latin grammar in a clear, concise fashion.