Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Truth and Virtue revisited

Recently I posted about the mystery of the Bryn Mawr College motto: is it VERITATEM DILEXI or VIRTVTEM DILEXI?

I showed that the inscription on Pembroke Arch, which is said to read 'veritatem,' actually reads 'virtutem.'

I'd heard from a faculty member that there were two explanations, described as apocryphal. One that a change occurred with the rise of feminism, what with virtus meaning 'manliness' and all (but would that have happened as early as 1908, when M. Carey Thomas quoted the motto in its modern form?). The other explanation wasn't mentioned, left off with a laugh that implied improbability or perhaps something unspeakable. I can't imagine what it might be, but it's probably more exciting to wonder.

I happened by the entrance to the Quita Woodward wing of Thomas Hall the other day and found something interesting. Here's the entrance:

And here's the inscription above:

It looks like a much newer inscription to me (up close it looks as though the whole center section above the arch of the doorway is done in concrete newer than the rest -- if so, what might have been replaced?).

I reckon I ought to hunt up that second explanation.

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