15 mai 2016

Vivat Academia!

http://chronicle.com/img/photos/biz/linguafranca-45.pngBy . Among the relics of medieval Latin still venerated by modern American colleges and universities are the mottos inscribed or circumscribed on the great seals that adorn their diplomas. Long before mission statements were sine qua non at institutions of higher learning, their seals evoked their aims.
Harvard, of course, leads the pack with a coat of arms reading ve ri tas: One word for “truth,” in a trinity of syllables. Lest there be any doubt about the nature of this trinity, the coat of arms was at one time encircled with the motto Cristo et ecclesiae, for Christ and the church.
Down in New Haven, Yale went Harvard one better by adding light to the truth, lux et veritas. It seems a simple addition, but the backstory is complicated because the Yale motto is a translation of an obscure Hebrew phrase, Urim vThummim. If you’re curious, a 2001 article in the Yale Alumni Magazine explains the development not only of Yale’s motto but also of Harvard’s. More...

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