Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sundial: SOLI DEO GLORIA

I found this lovely sundial at Wikimedia Commons, thanks to Roland ZH. It is at the Reformierte Kirche in Eglisau (not far from Zurich) in Switzerland.


The Latin motto is especially elegant, perfect for a sun dial:

SOLI DEO GLORIA

Here is a more detailed view:


The Latin words mean "(To) God Alone (is the) Glory." The Latin phrase is of great importance in the history of Christianity; you can learn more about that in this Wikipedia article: Soli Deo Gloria.

The word for "alone" in Latin here is soli, which is the dative form of the adjective solus. This creates a wonderful pun on the word for sun, which is sol in Latin, soli in the dative. So, in addition to meaning "To God Alone is the Glory," the Latin phrase also means "To God, the Sun, is the Glory."

For another sundial with this same Latin motto, see this beautiful image at the British Museum: 19th-century ivory diptych dial (see the motto on the lower dial). See also this diptych dial at the Royal Museums Greenwich.


Meanwhile, this Swiss sundial has a German inscription on a banner which I cannot read; if anybody can help me with this, that would be super! You can see a more detailed view here.




2 comments:

Thomas Filip said...

Hi there, the German inscription means "Our days are but a passing shadow."

Ole said...

Hi,
Thomas Filip's translation is correct, but he fails to point out that the sentence is a quotation from the Bible: Psalms 144, 4.. The German text reads "Unsere Tage sind wie ein fl├╝chtiger Schatten."
Thanks for your extremely useful blog.
Ole