Ramus poeticus. Zu den lateinischen Grabgedichten auf dem Sarkophag von Thomas Ramm in der Tallinner Domkirche


  • Kristi Viiding
  • Maria-Kristiina Lotman
  • Anni Arukask
  • Kaidi Kriisa
  • Tuuli Triin Truusalu




Epigraphs in Early modern Tallinn churches, Neo-Latin sepulchral epigrams, Renaissance sarcophagus for Thomas Ramm, Mathias Casimir Sarbiewski, reception of Classical Antiquity, reception of the Bible


Ramus poeticus. The Latin Sepulchral Epigram on the Sarcophagus of Thomas Ramm in St Mary’s Cathedral in Tallinn

Among the versified sepulchral epigrams in Estonian churches, the six elegiac distichs on the side slabs and the seven hexameter lines of verses on the cover of the sarcophagus of Thomas Ramm (1564–1631), a grave monument built in 1634 in the Tallinn Cathedral, have not been identified as the poems until now. The main reasons are that the verses are written in continuo, not in the traditional manner, and are difficult to read. Therefore, the other poetical features were also overlooked. In our article we edit the poems as a facsimile and in a modernized way, translate them into German and Estonian, and comment on the impact of other well-known texts from European culture on this sepulchral epigram. Although the main sources for the composition of early modern sepulchral epigrams are here the name and profession of the deceased (locus notationis and locus generis), the anonymous author of the poem in elegiac distich follows a very contemporary poem In idem sacrum canticum (Epigr. 39) written and published by Mathias Casimirus Sarbiewski 1632, the famous Jesuit poet from Vilna. The use of a Jesuit’s poem in memorial culture in Protestant Tallinn seems unexpected, but it is a creative and contrastive way of imitating Christian and Classical culture that lies behind it. The hexameter poem on the cover of the sarcophagus has no such direct contemporary models and, with its memento mori topic and rhetorical question about the future at the end of the poem, is a rather traditional Neo-Latin epicedium. 



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Author Biographies

Kristi Viiding

(b. 1972), the Professor and Head of the Department of Classical Philology at the Tartu University

Maria-Kristiina Lotman

(b. 1974), an Associate Professor at the University of Tartu