epitaph

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epitaph,

strictly, an inscription on a tomb; by extension, a statement, usually in verse, commemorating the dead. The earliest such inscriptions are those found on Egyptian sarcophagi. In England epitaphs did not begin to assume a literary character until the time of Elizabeth I. Ben Jonson, John Milton, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Johnson were considered masters of the art. The epitaph on Ben Jonson's own tomb in Westminster Abbey was splendidly brief: "O rare Ben Jonson!" Epitaphs are often humorous. It is not known whether the epitaph printed below is amusing by design or by accident: Here lie I Martin Elginbrodde: Have mercy on my soul, Lord God, As I wad do, were I Lord God, And ye were Martin Elginbrodde.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Epitaph

 

a gravestone inscription, generally in verse. A verse epitaph is a short poem, usually with a message to the deceased or from the deceased to passersby, for example, “Passerby, stop! . . .”

An epitaph may be an actual inscription on a gravestone or a short literary work, written as if for a gravestone, appearing in a collection of poetry. In European literature the epitaph developed as a variation of the classical epigram; noteworthy early epitaphs include those by Simonides of Ceos (fifth century B.C.). A popular genre in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the age of classicism, the epitaph subsequently came to be little used. The parodie or satiric epitaph, such as those written by R. Burns, is similar to the epigram of modern times and has survived longer than other types of epitaph. In modern times, epitaphs on gravestones or memorials that have literary merit are a rare phenomenon; an example is A. V. Lunacharskii’s epitaph to the fighters of the revolution on the Field of Mars.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In other words, the movie transcends its own epitaphic and thus monumental potential, and becomes an anti-monument in its own right.
Through the burial practice and epitaphic writing social bonds are created and individuals joined.
In Memoriam notices are a subset of epitaphic writing which is by
For example, he suggests how epitaphic production signals significant changes in theological practices and attitudes.
The living "coral takes on an epitaphic function" to restore to memory what has had to die below it (Amigoni 95-96).
epitaph, which resists the teleological and the epitaphic. Because of
Nevertheless, if the man-made epigraph signifies men's desire for the cultural appropriation of their woman, then, the epitaphic language itself also aspires to perform as a "counter-force" by disrupting and dissolving the masculine desire/law/language, attempting to reconfigure the boundaries of the relationship between the living and the dead.
There is accordingly an epitaphic quality in the reason Marcello offers for making love to his wife; the reason becomes a prayer addressed to his future, his death, but at the same time a theatrical role he has assumed: "Sono stato un uomo simile a tutti gli altri uomini ...
Subjectivity is epitaphic, forever arriving "too late" to be grasped from within.
(3) The primacy of epitaphic textual study over art is partly due to the dearth or absence of iconography on the earliest tombstones of Europe.
Although she "may want a lasting tribute to her pet,--she seems all too aware that the poet's power of representation, and of creating a work of epitaphic permanence, in some way violates the theme being celebrated" (28).