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Encyclopedia > Epitaph

An epitaph (in Greek, ἐπιτάφιος — literally "on the gravestone") is text honoring the deceased, most commonly inscribed on a tombstone or plaque. Traditionally an epitaph is in verse, but there are exceptions. Many poets have been known to compose their own epitaphs prior to their death. Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Poets are authors of poems. ...

Many are quotes from holy texts, or aphorisms. An approach of many successful epitaphs is to 'speak' to the reader and warn them about their own mortality. A wry trick of others is to request the reader to get off their resting place, as often it would require the reader to stand on the ground above the coffin to read the inscription. Some record achievements, (e.g. past politicians note the years of their terms of office) but nearly all (excepting Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where this is impossible) note name, date of birth and date of death. Many list family and their relation to them; such as Father / Mother / Son / Daughter etc of. An aphorism is a wise saying that bears repetition. ... The Landsoldaten (foot soldier) statue in Fredericia, Denmark. ...


Notable epitaphs


"Remember me as you pass by,

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, so you will be.

Remember Death will follow thee."

-English tombstone from East Sutton church above the Kentish Weald in Kent.[1]

I heard that mighty Jamshed the King

Carved on a stone near a spring of water these words:

"Many – like us – sat here by this spring

And left this life in the blink of an eye.

We captured the whole world through our courage and strength,

Yet could take nothing with us to our grave."

-Persian poetry carved on ancient tombstone in the Tajiki capital of Dushanbe.[2]

"Death is a debt to nature due, which I have paid and so shall you."

-Common Puritan epitaph


  1. ^ [1] Robert Fisk: An urge to smash history into tiny pieces, The Independent, 08 September 2007
  2. ^ [2]

Image File history File links Emblem-important. ...

See also

A chronogram is a sentence or inscription in which the capital letters, interpreted in Roman numerals, stand for a particular date if rearranged. ... It has been suggested that Epigraphy, Epigrapher and Epigraphist be merged into this article or section. ... Hero stone is a term for a memorial commemorating the death of a hero in India. ...

External links

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Epitaph Records: Demo-lition (119 words)
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Definition of epitaph - Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (86 words)
Etymology: Middle English epitaphe, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin epitaphium, from Latin, funeral oration, from Greek epitaphion, from epi- + taphos tomb, funeral
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