Sic transit gloria mundi

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Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world". It has been interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting."

It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis's work The Imitation of Christ: "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" ("How quickly the glory of the world passes away").[1][2]

The phrase played a part in the ritual of papal coronation ceremonies until 1963. As the newly chosen pope proceeded from the sacristy of St. Peter's Basilica in his sedia gestatoria, the procession stopped three times. On each occasion a papal master of ceremonies would fall to his knees before the pope, holding a silver or brass reed bearing a piece of smoldering tow. For three times in succession, as the cloth burned away, he would say in a loud and mournful voice, "Sancte Pater, sic transit gloria mundi!" ("Holy Father, so passes worldly glory!")[3] These words, thus addressed to the pope, served as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honors. The stafflike instrument used in the aforementioned ceremony is known as a "sic transit gloria mundi", named for the master of ceremonies' words.


[edit] Modern usage

[edit] Literature

  • In Chapter Two of Part 3 of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, The Guermantes Way, Mme. de Guermantes recounts a story wherein her nephew, Robert de Saint-Loup, uses this phrase in response to the death of the Empress of Austria.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle's short story My Friend the Murderer ends with this phrase.
  • The phrase is spoken by the character Bellerose in the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand to comment on the defeat of Valvert by Cyrano.
  • Frank Richards, author of The Magnet comic, often construed the Latin as "Thus are the mighty fallen"
  • Spider Robinson, author of the "Stardance Trilogy" named the ship on which Charlie is departing earth "Gloria Mundi". This was a pun based on the name of the shipping company, S. I. C. Transit.
  • It is chanted during Pierre Bezukhov's initiation into the Freemasons in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace
  • It is quoted in the Madeline L'Engle novel The Young Unicorns
  • In an album of the Asterix comic, one of the pirates speaks this quote after Asterix and Obelix have sunk their ship.
  • In the novel Flyaway, the protagonist uses the phrase as a pun after his wife Gloria leaves him.
  • The main action of the novel A Canticle for Leibowitz ends with the last crew member to board a spaceship leaving the nuclear war-stricken Earth uttering the phrase "sic transit mundus" ("Thus passes the world").
  • It is the closing statement of Stephen Jay Gould's The Misnamed, Mistreated, and Misunderstood Irish Elk.
  • In Chapter 23 of Herman Melville's Redburn, the term "Sic Transit Gloria!" is used to denote the departure of "the pride and glory of packet-ships." Redburn, the protagonist, uses this phrase after juxtaposing the old, faded elegance of the Highlander with its current condition.

[edit] Film/Television

  • The Tenth Doctor uses the phrase at least once.
  • The shortened "Sic transit gloria" (translated as "Thus glory fades") is spoken multiple times by various characters in Wes Anderson's movie Rushmore, culminating in Max Fischer's memorable use of the phrase in his audacious super-play on the Vietnam War. Students of Anderson's films often see this as an element present in all of his films, whose characters' peaks of glory were behind them.
  • Taken from the line from Rushmore, the band Brand New also has a song on their album Deja Entendu named "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades"
  • In the movie Carry on Cleo uttered by Kenneth Williams to British slave Gloria becoming sea sick
  • In the movie Patton, it is interpreted as "All glory is fleeting", but mentioned in the context similar to that of an ancient Roman Memento mori.
  • Goldie Hawn's character in Foul Play is named Gloria Mundy. The romantic comedy includes an attempted assassination of the Pope.
  • In Season 2 Episode 2 of the sitcom ALF, Alf utters "sic transit gloria mundi" and makes the sign of the cross after discovering the long-buried body of Brian's pet turtle.
  • An episode of Babylon 5 is called "Sic Transit Vir", Vir Cotto being a character from the show.
  • Curiously, for a celebration of their recent marriage, it is held up on a sign in the crowd when Sheridan and Delenn return "home" at the beginning of the last episode of Season Four of Babylon 5.
  • In the "Roman Empire" segment of History of the World, Part I, one Roman Senator utters the short form, to which another replies, "I didn't know Gloria was sick!"
  • Also quoted in the 1964 Vincent Price film The Masque of the Red Death from an original story by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Quoted by Eric Blore, playing the butler Bates, to Edward Everett Horton in the movie Top Hat (1935).
  • Quoted by Gemma Jones playing the character Connie James in the UK BBC1 TV series Spooks season six episode three.
  • Quoted in "Top Hat," starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, in reference to the improper wearing of a square tie with a dinner jacket, by the man servant.
  • Quoted in Curtis Hanson's "Wonder Boys" (2000)
  • The short science fiction novel Alas, All Thinking by Harry Bates (1935) ends with this phrase, as the last of the human race is destroyed.
  • 'Gloria Monday', a right-wing British prime minister resembling Margaret Thatcher, is the villain of the graphic novel Dare by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes.
  • Found in Richard A. Clarke's "Scorpion's Gate" (2005).[4]
  • Quoted by Devon Miles in Knight Rider's episode 'Give me Liberty...or give me dead' (1982; season 1, episode 15).
  • Judge Holmesby names his roses "gloria mundae" in the Disney Film, "The Misadventures of Merlin Jones".
  • In BUtterfield 8 (1960), Elizabeth Taylor's character, Gloria Wandrous, muses, "You know that Latin motto, sic transit gloria? Well, I'm the 'gloria,' and in my case the 'sic' is for real sick. I'm not too sure about the 'transit' but I think it has something to do with my car."

[edit] Music

  • It is the name of a song performed by Levi Garrett on his album Blue & Acqua
  • The Norwegian industrial metal band Red Harvest entitled their fourth album (and the first that was distributed outside of Europe) Sick Transit Gloria Mundi
  • In the Canadian musical "Anne of Green Gables," this phrase is sung in the Act II opening, entitled "Summertime."
  • If the player destroys the world and causes a nuclear winter, the classic personal computer game Command HQ (released in 1990 by Microplay) for the DOS system will terminate unexpectedly and print "Sic transit gloria mundi" to the screen.
  • Indie band Rothschilds called their debut album this.
  • It is the name of one track on the Swedish sing-song writer Frida Hyvönen's album "Silence is wild"
  • American Alternative-Rock Band Brand New released a single from their second album named Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades
  • It is the name of one track on Canadian metal band Buried Inside's debut album In and of the Self
  • It is the name of a song on Brandtson's album "Trying to figure each other out.

[edit] Other

  • When a human player is defeated in classic computer game Centurion: Defender of Rome, he will see dialog window: "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi The Roman Empire Has Fallen".
  • An article in the New York Daily News, about the transport of an ill Gloria Vanderbilt, used the headline "Sick Gloria in Transit: Monday" [3]
  • In 1980 the New York Daily News reported a state bailout of the city's subway system. It used the headline "Sick Transit's Glorious Monday".
  • In the 80's UK Comedian Rory Bremner whilst impersonating Bob Geldof implied that the words "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" were song lyrics about "Gloria throwing up in the back of a van” he then went on to say, "but, I Don't Like Mondays!"
  • In the unlikely derivations section of BBC radio's My Word, the phrase is claimed to be a desperate telegram from a stranded and cash-strapped friend asking the recipient to "SEEK TRAINSEAT GLORIA MONDAY"
  • Also on BBC radio, the phrase was defined on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue's New Definitions round as "Sic transit gloria mundi - Gloria was sick in the van, but she'll be back in on Monday".
  • The phrase was scribbled on a note by Charles Ponzi and handed to reporters at his sentencing for fraud.
  • It is the last line in the short story, The Maiden, written by Jean Stafford.
  • The popular 1990s MUD Holy Mission had this phrase on its login page.
  • In the game Metroid: Prime Hunters, one of the levels is named Sic Transit

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ "sic transit". Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (1989), online [1]
  2. ^ à Kempis, Thomas. The Imitation of Christ, I. iii. [2]
  3. ^ King, William Henry Francis. Classical and Foreign Quotations. London: J. Whitaker & Sons, 1904. [Google books]
  4. ^
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