‘De mortuis nil nisi bonum’ is from Sparta, not the Bible — 7 Comments

  1. I agree with you entirely, but with a small reservation.

    I have been to quite a few funerals, fortunately of people who deserved the worthy tributes from the altar (celebrant and family members). I take serious issue the the RC church which is attempting to ban such eulogies from the religious service.

    I agree that the celebrant can prick the baloon by telling it as it is, and this can be a great relief in the case of a deceased gobshite.

    However there may be occasions when the funeral is not the place to raise the hare, and where a family needs time to grieve. In this case I would amend the “nisi” by the addition of “instanter”. After the grieving period the gobshite is fair, justifiable, and necessary game.

  2. Funerals should really be about the bereaved and not about the deceased. If we got the focus right, it might be easier for those left behind.

    I sometimes have problems with the ‘joyful reunion in heaven’ stuff – I think there are spouses who are sometimes relieved to have escaped years of oppression and who probably have no desire to see the deceased again.

  3. I agree with your thought about funerals being for the bereaved rather than the deceased.
    But I have heard it often said about recently dead men that “ah, he wasn’t the worst.” And that meant with genuine affection, albeit combined with a realistic assessment of his contribution while living.

  4. The great Paul Eddington requested that his epitaph be, “He did very little harm.”

  5. Great comments by all. I was reading a Nero Wolfe novel and the “de mortuis…” phrase came up. With my rusty Jesuit high school Latin class as my only tool I could translate roughly half of the meaning. It’s been a pleasure being in your midst.

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