Out of Context

Written on April 7, 2011 by Banafsheh Farhangmehr in Arts & Cultures & Societies

THE 9/11 memorial in New York, still being planned, is to be dedicated on the 10th anniversary of the attack. Intended as a place for commemoration, reflection, education and solace, the memorial and museum will serve as a repository for the remains of the victims.

Some families of the victims have criticized the planned memorial because they are offended by the prospect of sharing the resting place of their loved ones with museum-going strangers. Because the structure will be built seven stories below the spot where the twin towers once stood, visitors will have to venture underground to pay their respects, a prospect that also is not comforting.

But one feature of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum seems above reproach: a quotation from Virgil’s “Aeneid” that will be inscribed on a wall in front of the victims’ remains.

The memorial inscription, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time” is an eloquent translation of the original Latin of “The Aeneid” — “Nulla dies umquam memori vos eximet aevo.”

The impulse to turn to time-hallowed texts, like the classics or the Bible, is itself time-hallowed. In the face of powerful emotions, our own words may seem hollow and inadequate, while the confirmation that people in the past felt as we now feel holds solace. And the language of poets and great thinkers can be in itself ennobling.

Continue reading in The New York Times


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