Enigmatic Inscription

Viator

New Member

Hello,
The following inscription appears on a 1611 painting I recently saw of Christopher Cresacre More, the great-grandson of Sir Thomas More. Cresacre is pictured in mourning garb in honor of his late wife Eliza who died the year before. The inscription is described as “deliberately enigmatic.” But I suspect the meaning is rather simple, once deciphered. My translating skills are pretty much nil. Could someone or several of you take a try? I think you would come closer to the original message than I.
Thanks!

ACER CRESC animo CHRISTI FER MORE, labores Pictus ELISA ferit GAGEA chara tuum
 

Matthaeus

Vemortuicida strenuus

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patronus

Hi,
would it be possible to post a picture of this painting?
 

Bestiola

Sciura Tigrina Croatica

  • Praetor

Just a guess:

ACER CRESC - CRESACRE

CHRISTI FER MOORE - CHRISTOPHER MOORE

ELISA GAGEA - ELISABETH GAGE (later Moore)

The letters in capital stand for names of the Christopher Cresacre Moore and his late wife.
 

scrabulista

Consul

  • Consul

pectus - "breast" makes more sense than pictus.
- dear Eliza Gage strikes your breast (metaphorically).

ACER CRESC'animo CHRISTI FER MORE, labores

Hmm something like "growing bitter in mind, Christopher More"
I'm not sure how labores fits.
 

Viator

New Member

Here are my notes and what I think it means. It is in the words of the artist:

I bring to life Christopher Cresacre More, painted amid hardships, he rests in the shelter of Eliza Gage’s memory.

Here, chara is a metaphor for Eliza's memory, for it assuages the physical and spiritual hunger of the bereft Cresacre.
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Chara, charae: [N (1st )F] edible root, mixed with milk/forms loaf to stave off hunger (Caesar CW III)
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Pictus
1
perfect participle of [pingo]
2 painted
3 coloured
4 (fabrics) decorated, embroidered in colour
fĕrĭo
transitive verb IV conjugation

1 to rest from work or labour
2 to keep or celebrate holiday
3 to be idle
4 to abstain from
5 to hit, to strike
6 to strike a bargain
7 to kill, to slay
ferit indicative 3rd person singular: “he rests”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
lăbŏr
masculine noun III declension

1 labour, toil, exertion, effort or work
2 task, undertaking
3 production
4 childbirth
5 preoccupation and concern
6 struggle, suffering, distress, hardship and stress
“labores” accusative plural (could be in or among hardships?)
----------------------------------------------------------------
tŭum
neutral noun II declension

safe place, shelter, security
nominative, accusative, vocative
--------------------------------------------------------------
ănĭmo
transitive verb I conjugation

1 to animate, to give or bring life
2 to revive, to refresh
3 to rouse, to animate
4 to inspire
5 to blow
1st person singular: “I bring life”
 

Agrippa

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

It's a distich consisting of a hexameter (ACER...labores) and a pentameter (Pectus [not pictus!] ... tuum).

ACER CRESC' animo, CHRISTI FER MORE, labores
Pectus ELISA ferit GAGEA chara tuum.


Spontaneously: My word for word interpretation of the grammatical structure:

Crescacer, fer animo, more Christi, labores!
Chara Elisa Gagea pectus tuum ferit.

fer:
imperative sing. of fero, ferre: bear!
labores:
acc. obj. the hardships (death of his wife &c.)
animo
: abl. sing. of animus, i m. in/with your heart
more Christi:
abl.sing. of mos, moris m.: just like Christ did

Elisa Gagea:
subject
c(h)ara: carus, a, um dear
ferit:
predicate, 3. pers. sing. prs. of ferio, ferire: hits
pectus tuum: acc. obj.
pectus, pectoris n. your breast (seat of affection)
 
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Agrippa

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Supplementary note:

Christi fer more: most elegant pun on Christopher < Christo-phoros, i. e. bearer of Christ.

(Christi more: verbatim: according to Christ's usage/example)
 

Viator

New Member

That's neat. So it's like an admonition or a charge:

Cresacre, bear the sufferings of your heart like Christ did, when the pangs of dear Eliza's loss assail your heart!

Is this what you mean?

His hand is over his heart, after all. Very touching.

Thanks
 

Viator

New Member

Well, I meant:

Cresacre, bear your suffering like Christ did, when the pangs of dear Eliza's loss assail your heart!
 

Viator

New Member

So, perhaps this is better?

Cresacre, bear your suffering with a heart in the manner of Christ when thoughts of dear Eliza Gage assail your breast!

Is it possible he was punning on pictus/pectus? After all, he was being painted.
 

scrabulista

Consul

  • Consul

pectus can be subject (nominative) or direct object (accusative); pictus - masculine -could be only the subject. but ELISA GAGEA chara - feminine - is the subject of the second clause.

Why flip acer and cres'? I'm still thinking acer = bitter, but it could be maple tree....
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patrona

Acer cresc' animo means (aside from the pun with the man's name) something like "grow strong in mind". The apostrophe indicates an elision, most likely of the letter e (an imperative is what makes sense here).

So:

Grow strong in mind, bear sufferings in the manner of Christ; (your) dear Eliza Gage strikes your heart (by her death).
 

scrabulista

Consul

  • Consul

Then the upper right....aetä - some form of aetas = age 38. (born 1572). Svae?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patrona

[anno] aetatis suae 38 = in the 38th [year] of his life.
 

Agrippa

Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

Pacifica dixit:


Acer cresc' animo means (aside from the pun with the man's name) something like "grow strong in mind". The apostrophe indicates an elision, most likely of the letter e (an imperative is what makes sense here).

So:

Grow strong in mind, bear sufferings in the manner of Christ; (your) dear Eliza Gage strikes your heart (by her death).
Perplacet quidem, sed apostrophus, quae inusitata videtur esse, paulum me impedivit ab hac interpretatione… Nonne sine apostropho facile scribi potuit „CRESCe animo“?
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

  • Civis Illustris

  • Patrona

Potuit quidem, sed scriptori aliter placuit. Patet elisionem significari; quid enim aliud? Neque ita mirum est.
 
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