Epigrams in the picture: back to school

Posted on 01/09/2020

The first of September means the first day of school in Belgium! 🎓🏫 We wish all parents and children a great start of the new school year, and want to take this opportunity to put an epigram in the spotlight that all (ex-)students can relate to.



✒️ Ἄρξου χείρ μου ἀγαθή,
γράφε γράμματα καλά,
μὴ δαρθῇς καὶ λυπηθῇς
καὶ ὕστερον μετανοήσῃς.


📖 Begin, good hand of mine,
write beautiful letters,
so you are not beaten and hurt,
and later feel regret.


🌐 https://www.dbbe.ugent.be/types/5030
📷 http://bdh-rd.bne.es/viewer.vm?id=0000022766&page=277




The poem has thirty occurrences in our database. Many of them offer variations on the text of our type and all of them have a rich individual history that’s yours to discover. 🔎 From Mount Athos to Moscow, from a 10th century manuscript to a 17th century marginal comment; dive into the colourful history of writing neatly! 🖋 In one manuscript, we find for example three times the same poem written by different monks (👉 https://www.dbbe.ugent.be/manuscripts/15881). Funny detail: it’s not because the subject of the epigram is calligraphy that the text is always written impeccably (👉 https://www.dbbe.ugent.be/occurrences/26424)!

The image was taken from a 12th century manuscript featuring the ‘Synopsis historiarum’, John Skylitzes’ famous history of the Byzantine empire. This particular folium contains a beautiful miniature depicting two teachers (οἱ φιλόσοφοι) and their pupils (οἱ μαθηταί).