Letter: Many ways to coin an ancient phrase

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Sir: Who decides what 'Decus et Tutamen' means (letters, 13 July)? The quotation is from Virgil's Aeneid V262, in which the second prize in the funeral games is a breast-plate, which the winner will wear 'as his pride and protection in battle' (Penguin translation).

Clearly Virgil didn't have the pound coin in mind, and it would be interesting to know what the Latinists of the Royal Mint intended. However, these words are perhaps the most widely published text in the country, and we can interpret them how we please. I like to think of them as making the fair claim that the coin is attractive and dignified, and the more optimistic claim that it is a hedge against inflation.

Yours faithfully,


Department of Philosophy

University of Leeds


14 July