I am seeking a translation of a Christopher Wren inspired memento mori:

If you seek my monument do not look around, (rather) Look you here upon her beautiful face, deep into her eyes.

My school boy Latin was weak. I came up with incorrect variations like:

Titulum quaeris mea nolite circumspice. Respice ad eius faciem pulchram. In illam oculos, voltus.

I'm writing this for my young daughter's wedding as a preface in a journal I am gifting to her that describes my love for her and her mother. The journal was given to me from her mum, my deceased wife, who bore my beloved child (who is now 17), becoming married to her lover and to whom I give as his wife. Can someone out there offer their help to polish my crude school boy Latin I learned 30 years ago when I was 7?


1 Answer 1


There are two main parts to this translation: "if you seek my monument" and "look you here".

Christopher Wren's epitaph is originally in Latin, so you can use that as a starting point.


The relevant part is the last two lines of text: lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice (reader, if you would see his tomb/memorial, look around you).

So as a starting point, sī monumentum meum requīris, nōlī circumspicere.

For "rather" I would use sed, though there may be better alternatives (for example Greek has a very nice particle for this exact usage, and something in the back of my mind suggests immo).

Then I would use a form of aspiciō, "look upon", for symmetry with circumspiciō "look around". The previous verb is singular imperative, so this should be as well, aspice.

A beautiful face would be vultus pulcher, vultum pulchrum in the accusative. (Other alternatives are faciēs and bellus. TODO: there's a passage in Aeneid IV which mentioned Ascanius's lovely face; what words did that use?)

Into her eyes would be in oculōs eius. Again there might be more poetic words for that. And unfortunately I'm not sure what the idiom for looking "deep into one's eyes" is.

So all together, sī monumentum meum requīris, nōlī circumspicere, sed aspice vultum pulchrum et in oculōs eius.

  • 1
    Fantastic that you tracked down the original Latin inscription! The whole approach is great.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Jul 22, 2017 at 3:32
  • I don't know how to look deep into someone's eyes in Latin either; this would make a good question here. I'd phrase that as aspice vultum pulchrum et oculos eius profundos instead to work around the dubious part. I've used this as a Latin translation before, but there might be something better.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 22, 2017 at 19:16

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