Sunday, June 19, 2005

Useless (but Excellent) Pound Trivia

Over the course of this year, the writing on the sides of the one Pound coin has bothered me at times. The newer and rarer two Pound coin terminology is in English: Newton's famous phrase, "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants". But no one ever seemed to be able to offer the translations of the ancient phrases on the various one pound coins that bear, alternatively, English, Welsh, or Scottish mottos and faces.

Granted, normally this concern only arose in searching for appropriate change while waiting at the bar for a pint. I habitually questioned Oxford scholars standing around me to pass the time, yet no one could ever heroically provide an answer.

Until now. Finally I have remembered to harness the powers of Google in this quest and so the search comes to its end. Thank you, everything2.com, for the answers:

NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT - "No one provokes me with impunity". This is on the Scottish pound coin and is taken from the motto of the Order of the Thistle.

PLEIDIOL WYF I'M GWLAD - "True am I to my country". This is the inscription on the Welsh coin and is taken from their national anthem.

DECUS ET TUTAMEN - "An ornament and a safeguard". This is taken from Vergil's Aeneid. It is on the coins for the UK, England, and for Northern Ireland.

Predictably, the Scottish one is the favorite, even used in the classic Edgar Allan Poe tale The Cask of Amontillado. Outstanding. So some small talk at the pub small for you, boys. Seriously - what did people used to do without the Internet?


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