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Latin Palindromes


Civis Illustris

  • Civis Illustris

I've just found this in W Camden's "Remains Concerning Britain". I will quote the whole thing:

But I will end with this of Odo, holding Master Doctour's Mule, and Anne with her Table-cloth, which cost the Maker much foolish labour, for it is a perfect Verse, and every word is the very same both backward and forward.

"Odo tenet mulum, madidam mappam tenet Anna.
Anna tenet mappam madidam, mulum tenet Odo"


New Member

I am researching palindromes in classical and medieval times, in case anyone is still following this topic. An excellent source (beyond the Greek Anthology - Planudes) is "Chorus Musarum" by Jan de Bisschop (1620). It has a very large collection of Latin palindromes, but almost no information about their sources.

I'm particularly interested in another palindrome not found there.
"In girum imus noctu ecce ut consumimur igni."
(We wander/circle around in the night and are consumed by fire)

It's pretty well known, as the title of a Guy Debord film and featured in Umberto Eco's "War of the Rose."

Does anyone know the original source? I can't find anything older than a French book from 1830.


Etaoin Shrdlu


No, but it's In girum imus nocte ecce et consumimur igni.


New Member

The oldest Latin palindromes I know of are the SATOR square and the ROMA / OLIM / MILO / AMOR square, found in Pompeii along with a dozen reversed names and a Greek palindrome.
Sidonius quotes two: "Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor," and "Sole medere, pede ede perede melos." Other than that I don't know of any documented classical examples. The next would probably be Hrabanus Maurus in 810 CE with "Oro te ramus aram ara sumar et oro."

Do you know any Latin palindromes?

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni
We go wandering at night and are consumed by fire
I love your palindrome but can't find an example older than 1830, in a French music book. That version is slightly different: In girum imus noctu ecce ut consumimur igni
Do you have a source for that one?

No, but it's In girum imus nocte ecce et consumimur igni.

Interesting. Do you have a source for it? The oldest I can find is M. Fetis "la musique mise à la portée de tout le monde," (Paris: Alexandre Mesnier)1830, in-8º, Chapitre X, p113