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Greek/Neville portrait inscription 1599


Dear Maria,

There is an apparent quote in Greek painted on a 1599 portrait of Henry Neville from Thucydides History of the Pelopennesian War that has been translated as: "Everywhere without visible symbol". Neville was a Greek scholar graduated from Merton College Oxford and a companion of Henry Savile (translator of Acts and Revelations for the 1611 King James Bible) for 4 years, 1576-1580, as he researched the Continent for ancient Greek texts to import into England. Neville would have been capable of painting the inscription in Ancient Greek based on his background (the inscription is clearly added to the portrait by someone other than the portraitist). Can you please show how the quotation would have been written in Ancient Greek so that I may compare it to the portrait?

Dear David,

first of all I have to point out that the translation "Everywhere without visible symbol" is nothing but a mere adaptation of the original words that we read in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 2, chapter 43, section 3, where there is Pericles' Funeral Oration  for the war dead, at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War which lasted from 431 BC to 404 BC.

So, the translation ”Everywhere without visible symbol”  can correspond to   the following original Greek words πᾶσα γῆ τάφος (literally, “The whole earth [is] the tomb”)and ἄγραφος μνήμη (literally, “an unwritten remembrance”).

In short, the Greek quote painted on a 1599 portrait of Henry Neville could sound as follows:” πᾶσα γῆ τάφος  ἄγραφος μνήμη”, but the entire quotation from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 2, chapter 43, section 3, reads as follows :

ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος, καὶ οὐ στηλῶν μόνον ἐν τῇ οἰκείᾳ σημαίνει ἐπιγραφή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ μὴ προσηκούσῃ ἄγραφος μνήμη παρ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τῆς γνώμης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ ἔργου ἐνδιαιτᾶται” meaning:“The whole earth [is] the tomb of heroic men and their memory is not only on the epigraph of their monument in their country, but also in lands far from their own an unwritten memory of what they did lives in everybody rather than in a monument".

To conclude, I hope that  this can help you to compare the original Greek text to the portrait's inscription.
Anyway, let me know if you need more info.

Best regards,
Note that:

πᾶσα = the whole

γῆ = earth

τάφος = [is] the tomb

ἄγραφος =un unwritten

μνήμη =remembrance/memory


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I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning ANCIENT GREEK. So, do not ask me please questions regarding MODERN GREEK as it is different from Ancient Greek either in spelling/meaning or in pronunciation.


Over 25 years teaching experience.

I received my Ph.D in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy) and my thesis was about ancient Greek drama (Aeschylus).

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