Meaning Behind 9/11 Memorial Quote Is Jarring
It refers to pair of Trojan soldiers who killed many
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2014 7:22 AM CDT
Updated Apr 6, 2014 12:30 PM CDT
Nisus slaying Volscens, in a scene from Virgil's 'Aeneid.'   (Wenceslaus Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – The words, with no context beyond location, seem appropriate enough: "No day shall erase you from the memory of time. Virgil." So reads a 60-foot-long inscription appearing along a wall at the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum. Behind the wall sit the 8,000 human remains that could not be identified. And behind the quote sits a story that doesn't exactly jibe with the setting, the New York Times finds. The line is pulled from Book 9 of the Aeneid, and the "you" it refers to are Nisus and Euryalus—two men who happen to be Trojan soldiers, and whose story is described thusly by David Dunlap for the Times:

  • "Your deaths are not unprovoked. You have just slaughtered the enemy in an orgy of violence, skewering soldiers whom you ambushed in their sleep. For this, the enemy has killed you and impaled your heads on spears."
As Dunlap points out, Nisus and Euryalus aren't exactly a stand-in for the 9/11 victims. A classics professor calls the inscription "shockingly inappropriate" on first blush, and better suited for those who carried out the attacks, though she concedes the quote could prod visitors to consider "what drives young men to commit such atrocities." Further, Vocativ points out that, based on the devices Virgil uses to explain their relationship, scholars classify the two men as lovers. Museum officials have long been aware of the contention surrounding the line, and dropped the word "Aeneid" from it, perhaps to insert more distance between the statement and its source.

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Showing 3 of 45 comments
bruno937
Apr 7, 2014 12:51 AM CDT
The quote below makes it sound like as if we have/had hundreds of thousands of soldiers killing/killed hundreds of thousands of muslims, occupying their countries with one excuse or another, usually to protect our "friend" Israhell, spending hundreds of BILLIONS, for DECADES. We would never do such things. "Your deaths are not unprovoked. You have just slaughtered the enemy in an orgy of violence, skewering soldiers whom you ambushed in their sleep. For this, the enemy has killed you and impaled your heads on spears."
People_Suck
Apr 7, 2014 12:28 AM CDT
The quote itself is appropriate but with the original context in mind I would have to pass.
Ezekiel 25:17
Apr 6, 2014 9:20 PM CDT
Reminds me of public art we have near the tour canal. It is a recreation of the scene from Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill. The first operator told our group it was Kevin Durant. I asked him if he knew who it truly was. He said, "dude, its Kevin Durant." I asked him if he had ever heard of Sisyphus he said, "Sissy who?" The next time the guy said it was a display of the Black man's challenge to live in our city through the ages and the trouble they had. I asked him if he had ever heard of Sisyphus and he said, "Have no idea." The latest canal boat operator got it right on all accounts, probably because I had called the operator of the boats to let him know people need to have an intelligent explanation of the public art and not Gober's best guess.