Latin Inscription

Hanc aedem

frater fratri

Henrico Herberto Wills

Georgius Alfredus Wills

suis impensis fundatam

amoris monumentum dedicavit

a. s. MCMXXV

The last Warden translates and glosses the inscription thus: 'George Alfred Wills dedicated this house, founded at his expense, as a brother's homage to his brother Henry Herbert Wills, and as a monument of his love, in the year 1925".

Note the symmetries and rhetorical relationships in this brief text. The two "main characters" appear right in the middle of the inscription, with a line each. The donor's name is in the very centre (he is "the main event", after all). The relationship commemorated is succinctly anticipated in the two words of line 2, a balanced nominative and dative of the same word ("[a] brother [dedicated to a] brother"), and then elaborated in the next two lines (this time the dative first, denoting the dedicatee, then the nominative, the donor, so elegantly reversing the order of cases in line 2 and creating overall the effect of chiasmus). The donor makes sure that posterity knows he has paid for this ("suis impensis", "at his expense").

 

The inscription ends with the date, "a.s. MCMXXV", where "a.s." stands for "anno salutis" ("in the year of salvation"), a variant of the more usual "a.d.". The whole is a minor masterpiece of rhetorical history.'

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