• Ivica Profaca

Spiritual Graffiti

No matter how good I know my hometown Split, there are always details that still wait to be discovered. That's why one of my favourite hobbies is just to browse and look around, whenever I can. Sometimes, results are just beautiful, as expected in a city with so many historical layers as Split has.

Among such discoveries, a special place is reserved for old inscriptions on buildings and walls. On several spots around the Diocletian's Palace carved signatures or signs can be found, some kind of ancient graffiti. For examples, on a front facade of the Jupiter's temple (Baptistery) there is a beautiful carved bull, and around Palace's substructures there are many signs attributed to its builders.

Even later, it was not so unusual for old builders or even investors to leave such marks, often left either their signatures in stone, or their spiritual mottos. Two of my favourites belong to this group, carved on two plaques at the eastern end of the central Split square Narodni trg. I read somewhere that a medieval noble palace once stood there, similar to few dozens of such palaces still standing around Split, which once belonged (some still do) to rich and prominent families.

On the right from Morpurgo bookstore the inscription says Respice Finem, translated from Latin "have regard for the end" or "consider the end". It's a spiritual reminder that whatever we do brings consequences, so we better think twice about what we are doing. This Latin phrase was actually quite popular everywhere in the Christian world. For example, even admiral William Bligh, HMS Bounty's captain had it on his family crest.

The other one you can find when going left, or northbound from Morpurgo, and it says Nosce te ipsvm. Things become a little bit more complicated with this one. Research showed that in Latin version it originates from Roman speaker and philosopher Cicero. However, even he borrowed it from a Greek phrase inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. If you're not so interested in ancient philosophy, how about this: it can be seen above the door of the Oracle's house in movie The Matrix.

I must say, I like this saying even better than the first one, somehow it better reflects today's life. It means "know thyself", and it's considered as an addition to the question of life’s meaning. Ultimately - through understanding our self we better understand other humans, too.

Previously published on Visit Split

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