Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ne oublie

I have always worn my Graham Clan badge with pride. The tales of some of my ancestors show them to have been a bunch of rascals but family is family, after all. The clan Chief's motto is 'Ne oublie' though no-one remembers what it is that we should 'never forget.'
I've just received my copy of the clan newsletter, containing an interesting article on mottoes. The authority for Scottish heraldry records 32 mottoes for Clan Graham or Graeme; some are prayerful, some thoughtful and a few self righteous but, quite a few of them suggest that we Grahams are a forgetful and absent-minded lot. As well as Ne oublie, I find N'oublie, Ne oubliez, Memor esto (be mindful) and Souvenez (remember). Perhaps my obsession with memory is inherited.
I rather like 'Cubo et excubo' (I sleep and watch) and eagerly await an opportunity to use it, perhaps the next time the MM accuses me of nodding off in front of the television. I shall shout 'noli me tangere' (touch me not) the next time a small child approaches with grubby outstretched hands and 'Nec sperno, nec timeo' (I neither despise nor fear) could be useful against my critics.
I'm not entirely sure that I would use 'Tutus in undis' (safe on the waves) on a sinking ship as it sounds rather like an order for everyone to undress but 'Ardenter prosequor alis' (eagerly do I pursue my winged course) sounds like a great battle cry for the queues at Heathrow.
Two sets of Grahams might express themselves slightly differently: 'Semper susum' or 'Numquam deorsum' but it would be alright to combine the two - Always upwards, never downwards. Then there is the branch that is already in two minds: 'Omne meum, nihil meum' (everything mine, nothing mine).
Ratio mihi sufficit.


  1. 'Cubo et excubo' is brilliant. You could use it as a denial when accused of sleeping through a film, or you could simply utter it smugly as a justification for spending all day in front of the Test match.

  2. You can adopt that as your own Graham motto as the maternal line counts in the clan.

  3. No mottoes related to chocolate cake?

  4. The closest I can find, Duck, is 'Pignus amoris' - a pledge of love. I don't think the Romans or the ancestors ate chocolate cake!

  5. Virescit Vulnere Virtus ("Virtue flourishes at a wound")is ours. I've never been certain of exactly what that was supposed to mean, but it did seem to capture the spirit of our family get-togethers when I was growing up.

  6. I like the sound of that, Peter. I can imagine it as a bloodcurdling battle cry as your ancestors rushed down the mountainside. I doubt they knew what it meant, either.

    I hope you pronounced the 'v' as such. My Latin teacher insisted that it should be pronounced 'w' and 'wirescit wulnere wirtus' does not sound nearly so noble or brave.


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