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August 28, 2017

Et in Arcadia ego

Happened for the full month with a lot of samples and interests about 'too' usage, and apparently today in TheFreeDictionary article. You see this here bellow, and an additional my post in LangLing in this link: 


Either way, the sentiment is meant to set up an image contrast between the shadow of death and the  utopian merriment as if the nymphs and swains of ancient Arcadia are thought to embody, although that the meaning of the intricate composition seems to be that the discovery of the art has been the creative response of humankind to the shocking discovery of mortality for the difference in the latter. 

Accordingly, that death claims to rule even Arcadia is challenged by art, whilst death only usurps its power, is the  raison detre to recall with the difference in the former.



"Et in Arcadia ego" is a Latin phrase that most famously appears as the title of two paintings by Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665). They are pastoral paintings depicting idealized shepherds from classical antiquity, clustering around an austere tomb. The more famous second version of the subject, measuring 87 by 120 centimetres (34.25 x 47.24 in), is in the Louvre, Paris, and also goes under the name "Les bergers d'Arcadie" ("The Arcadian Shepherds").

Origin

The translation of the phrase is "Even in Arcadia, there am I". The usual interpretation is that "I" refers to death, and "Arcadia" means a utopian land. It would thus be a memento mori. During Antiquity, Greeks lived in cities close to the sea, and led an urban life. Only Arcadians, in the middle of the Peloponnese, lacked cities, were far from the sea, and led a shepherd life. Thus for urban Greeks, especially during the Hellenistic era, Arcadia symbolized pure, rural, idyllic life, far from the city.
However, Poussin's biographer, André Félibien, interpreted the phrase to mean that "the person buried in this tomb lived in Arcadia"; in other words, that the person too once enjoyed the pleasures of life on earth. This reading was common in the 18th and 19th centuries. For example William Hazlitt wrote that Poussin "describes some shepherds wandering out in a morning of the spring, and coming to a tomb with this inscription, 'I also was an Arcadian'."[1]
The former interpretation ("ego" referring to death) is now generally considered more likely; the ambiguity of the phrase is the subject of a famous essay by the art historian Erwin Panofsky (see References). Either way, the sentiment was meant to set up an ironic contrast between the shadow of death and the usual idle merriment that the nymphs and swains of ancient Arcadia were thought to embody.

Guercino's version of the subject.
The first appearance of a tomb with a memorial inscription (to Daphnis) amid the idyllic settings of Arcadia appears in Virgil's Eclogues V 42 ff. Virgil took the idealized Sicilian rustics that had first appeared in the Idylls of Theocritus and set them in the primitive Greek district of Arcadia (see Eclogues VII and X). The idea was taken up anew in the circle of Lorenzo de' Medici in the 1460s and 1470s, during the Florentine Renaissance.
In his pastoral work Arcadia (1504), Jacopo Sannazaro fixed the Early Modern perception of Arcadia as a lost world of idyllic bliss, remembered in regretful dirges. The first pictorial representation of the familiar memento mori theme that was popularized in 16th-century Venice, now made more concrete and vivid by the inscription ET IN ARCADIA EGO, is Guercino's version, painted between 1618 and 1622 (in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome), in which the inscription gains force from the prominent presence of a skull in the foreground, beneath which the words are carved.

Poussin's 1627 version of the Arcadian Shepherds, in Chatsworth House, depicting a different tomb with the same inscription.
Poussin's own first version of the painting (now in Chatsworth House) was probably commissioned as a reworking of Guercino's version. It is in a far more Baroque style than the later version, characteristic of Poussin's early work. In the Chatsworth painting the shepherds are actively discovering the half-hidden and overgrown tomb, and are reading the inscription with curious expressions. The shepherdess, standing at the left, is posed in sexually suggestive fashion, very different from her austere counterpart in the later version. The later version has a far more geometric composition and the figures are much more contemplative. The mask-like face of the shepherdess conforms to the conventions of the Classical "Greek profile".

Interpretation