Et in Arcadia Ego

By John Hertz: Speaking of Nero Wolfe, which I think is worth doing provided it’s one of Rex Stout’s stories, while happening to re-read ”Murder Is Corny” (1964) I found this – who knows how many times I’d seen it before it struck a spark (1980 Bantam printing of the collection Trio for Blunt Instruments, p. 134):

There it is, your one major flaw: a distorted conception of the impossible.

Stout never says Wolfe gave s-f a thought.  But what more could you ask?

The Latin above may come from the poet Virgil.  Literally it’s “And [even] in Arcadia, I am”.

In a painting by Guercino of about 1620 (the cautious say “1618-1622”; computer lovers will recognize my choice) idyllic shepherds find it on a tomb.  If you read E. Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945), which I think is worth doing, you’ll find it’s the first part.

You can look up “Arcadia”.  And you can decide for yourself about the rest.

6 thoughts on “Et in Arcadia Ego

  1. I usually think of Et in Arcadia, Ego, by Nicholas Poissin, which hangs in the Louvre.

    The way i learned it, Arcadia is a rural paradise and “I” is death. To update the expression to modern, SF, terms, I might translate it as “Even in utopia, you find death.”

    Any computer lover who remembers the IBM 1620 is probably old enough to be meditating on death. 🙂

  2. Greg Hullender on April 12, 2017 at 3:58 am said:

    I usually think of Et in Arcadia, Ego, by Nicholas Poissin, which hangs in the Louvre.

    Love that painting but partly because of all those wacky Holy-Blood-Holy-Grail theories around it.

  3. Greg Hullender on April 12, 2017 at 3:58 am said:
    I usually think of Et in Arcadia, Ego, by Nicholas Poissin, which hangs in the Louvre.
    …and, upon following the kindly provided link, immediately made me think of:
    MAYNARD: ‘…The Castle of aaarrrrggh’.
    BEDEVERE: What is that?
    MAYNARD: He must have died while carving it.
    LANCELOT: Oh, come on!
    MAYNARD: Well, that’s what it says.
    ARTHUR: Look, if he was dying, he wouldn’t bother to carve ‘aarrggh’. He’d just say it!
    MAYNARD: Well, that’s what’s carved in the rock!
    GALAHAD: Perhaps he was dictating.

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