Memento Mori

remember you will die

Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as ‘Remember your mortality’ or “remember you will die’  – (literally:  ‘[in the future] remember to die’). It names a genre of artistic creations that vary widely from one another, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality. The phrase has a tradition in art that dates back to antiquity. In ancient Rome, the words are believed to have been used on the occasions when a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph. Standing behind the victorious general was his slave, who was tasked to remind the general that, though his highness was at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall.

The thought came into its own with Christianity, whose strong emphasis on Divine Judgment, Heaven, Hell, and the salvation of the soul brought death to the forefront of consciousness. Most memento mori works are products of Christian art, although there are equivalents in Buddhist art.

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