ANSWERS: 4
  • In English the inscription means "Mortals! Rejoice at so great an ornament to the human race!" To me it means that Newton set an incredibly high standard as a human being - he shone like an ornament, and we humans should rejoice that it is possible to achieve a great deal in our lives.
  • The Latin inscription on Newton's tomb, despite its bombastic language, proclaims "Mortals! rejoice at so great an ornament to the human race!" Alexander Pope's couplet is also apropos: "Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night; God said, Let Newton be! and all was light." http://lh4.ggpht.com/_2eDQESOIym4/SAoKLFTZbEI/AAAAAAAAB7U/t0lVE6SnkEQ/isaac-newton-tomb-paradox.jpg
  • It is a little known fact that there are two iscriptions on Newton's tomb - obviously the main one is at the top - but somewhere low down on the back of the tomb you will find the words, in small script : Vice versa (other way round)
  • 1) "Newton's grave is in front of the choir screen, close to his monument. The Latin inscription reads: Hic depositum est, quod mortale fuit Isaaci Newtoni. This may be translated as 'Here lies that which was mortal of Isaac Newton'. Newton's Monument Newton's monument stands against the choir screen, to the north of the entrance to the choir. It was executed by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770) to the designs of the architect William Kent (1685-1748) and dates from 1731. The monument is of white and grey marble. Its base bears a Latin inscription (see below) and supports a sarcophagus with large scroll feet and a relief panel. The latter depicts boys using instruments related to Newton's mathematical and optical work (including the telescope and prism) and his activity as Master of the Mint. Above the sarcophagus is a reclining figure of Newton, in classical costume, his right elbow resting on several books representing his great works. They are labelled 'Divinity', 'Chronology', 'Opticks' [1704] and 'Philo. Prin. Math' [Philosophia Naturalis Principia Mathematica, 1686-7)]. With his left hand he points to a scroll with a mathematical design, held by two standing winged boys. The background is a pyramid on which is a celestial globe with the signs of the Zodiac, of the constellations, and with the path of the comet of 1680. On top of the globe sits a figure of Astronomy leaning upon a book. The monument originally stood out against the flat front of the choir screen, but was enclosed within a decorative arch when Edward Blore re-modelled the screen in 1834. The inscription reads: H. S. E. ISAACUS NEWTON Eques Auratus, / Qui, animi vi prope divinâ, / Planetarum Motus, Figuras, / Cometarum semitas, Oceanique Aestus. Suâ Mathesi facem praeferente / Primus demonstravit: / Radiorum Lucis dissimilitudines, / Colorumque inde nascentium proprietates, / Quas nemo antea vel suspicatus erat, pervestigavit. / Naturae, Antiquitatis, S. Scripturae, / Sedulus, sagax, fidus Interpres / Dei O. M. Majestatem Philosophiâ asseruit, / Evangelij Simplicitatem Moribus expressit. / Sibi gratulentur Mortales, / Tale tantumque exstitisse / HUMANI GENERIS DECUS. / NAT. XXV DEC. A.D. MDCXLII. OBIIT. XX. MAR. MDCCXXVI This can be translated as follows: Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own, explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of comets, the tides of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no other scholar has previously imagined, the properties of the colours thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of nature, antiquity and the holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and good, and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race! He was born on 25th December, 1642, and died on 20th March 1726/7. Translation from G.L. Smyth, The Monuments and Genii of St. Paul's Cathedral, and of Westminster Abbey (1826), ii, 703-4." Source and further information: http://www.westminster-abbey.org/history-research/monuments-gravestones/people/12186 2) "Isaac Newton (Alexander Pope) On his tombstone, "Hic depositum est, quod mortale fuit Isaaci Newtoni," which is translatable as "here is deposited what was mortal of Isaac Newton" On the adjacent monument "Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night: God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light." " Source and further information: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Epitaphs 3) the meaning is that *only* the mortal part of Isaac Newton lies there. His ideas and his spirit do not lie there.

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