An epitaph (from Greek ἐπιτάφιον epitaphion "a funeral oration" from ἐπί epi "at, over" and τάφος taphos "tomb") is a short text honoring a deceased person, strictly speaking that is inscribed on their tombstone or plaque, but also used figuratively. Some are specified by the dead person beforehand, others chosen by those responsible for the burial. An epitaph may be in poem verse; poets have been known to compose their own epitaphs prior to their death, as W.B. Yeats did.

Most epitaphs are brief records of the family, and perhaps the career, of the deceased, often with an expression of love or respect - "beloved father of ..." - but others are more ambitious. From the Renaissance to the 19th century in Western culture, epitaphs for notable people became increasingly lengthy and pompous descriptions of their family origins, career, virtues and immediate family, often in Latin. However, the Laudatio Turiae, the longest known Ancient Roman epitaph exceeds almost all of these at 180 lines; it celebrates the virtues of a wife, probably of a consul.

Some are quotes from holy texts, or aphorisms. One approach of many epitaphs is to 'speak' to the reader and warn them about their own mortality. A wry trick of others is to request the reader to get off their resting place, inasmuch as the reader would have to be standing on the ground above the coffin to read the inscription. Some record achievements (e.g., past politicians note the years of their terms of office). Nearly all (excepting those where this is impossible by definition, such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) note name, year or date of birth, and date of death. Many list family members and the relationship of the deceased to them (for example, "Father / Mother / Son / Daughter of").

Read more about EpitaphNotable Epitaphs, Epitaphs in Music

Other articles related to "epitaph":

Curia (wife Of Quintus Lucretius) - Epitaph
... Her husband writes in an epitaph on a large tombstone called "Laudatio Turiae" of her qualities, Why should I mention your domestic virtues, your loyalty, obedience, affability, reasonableness, industry in ...
This War Is Ours - Release History - Deluxe Special Edition
... Label Via pre-order USA April 23, 2010 (2010-04-23) Epitaph Via pre-order April 24, 2010 (2010-04-24) Epitaph In stores April 27, 2010 (2010-04-27) Epitaph ...
Straight Faced - Epitaph Years
... group enlisted David Tonic and Kevin Norton and signed with Epitaph Records to release Conditioned, their third LP ... A fourth full-length, Pulling Teeth, was released on Epitaph in 2000 before the group disbanded some time thereafter ...
Swift's Epitaph
... "Swift's Epitaph" is a translation by Irish poet William Butler Yeats of Jonathan Swift's epitaph, which Swift wrote for himself in Latin ...
Epitaphs in Music
... In a more figurative sense, music in memory of deceased people has been composed ... Igor Stravinsky composed in 1958 Epitaphium for flute, clarinet and harp ...

Famous quotes containing the word epitaph:

    And were an epitaph to be my story
    I’d have a short one ready for my own.
    I would have written of me on my stone:
    I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.
    Robert Frost (1874–1963)

    Here lies John Knott:
    His father was Knott before him,
    He lived Knott, died Knott,
    —Unknown. Epitaph on John Knott (l. 1–3)

    That land is like an Eagle, whose young gaze
    Feeds on the noontide beam, whose golden plume
    Floats moveless on the storm, and in the blaze
    Of sunrise gleams when Earth is wrapped in gloom;
    An epitaph of glory for the tomb
    Of murdered Europe may thy fame be made,
    Great People! as the sands shalt thou become;
    Thy growth is swift as morn, when night must fade;
    The multitudinous Earth shall sleep beneath thy shade.
    Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)