Friday, January 18, 2013


This sundial is from St Buryan Church in Cornwall, England and is dated to the year 1747. The Latin inscription means "They perish and are reckoned," meaning that the hours and days perish and are reckoned to our accounts.

Pereunt et Imputantur

The words are from the Roman poet Martial, 5.20. Here are the closing lines in Latin and in an English translation by Robert Louis Stevenson; for the complete poem in Latin and in Stevenson's English translation, see this blog post at Laudator Temporis Acti.
Now neither [of us] lives unto himself, alas!
And the good suns we see, that flash and pass
And perish; and the bell that knells them cries:
"Another gone: O when will ye arise?"

Nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque
soles effugere atque abire sentit,
qui nobis pereunt et inputantur.
Quisquam vivere cum sciat, moratur?
Here is Cowley's English rendering of those lines (cited by Eden):
Now to himself, alas! does neither live
But sees good suns of which we are to give
A strict account, set, and doth march away:
Knows a man how to live, and does he stay?
You can see the same inscription on the famous astronomical clock of Exeter Cathedral. The motto is discussed in Eden expanded edition of Gatty's Book of Sun Dialswith a long list of other examples.

Additional views of the sundial: