bonus intra, melior exi

Chad Alexander Smith | April 4, 2014

"Bonus intra. Melior exi.” is a Latin epigram that translates “Come in good. Go out better.”

An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. Derived from the Greek: πίγραμμα epigramma "inscription" from πιγράφειν epigraphein "to write on– inscribe", this literary device has been employed for over two millennia.

I first had my first encounter with these curious words as a student at Princeton University.  Each evening as I dined in Proctor Hall at the Graduate College, I passed the inscription giving it little thought.  Years later, the college published an article listing the various epigrams across campus explaining their meaning.  It was common for prior students to donate to the university and request a carving, with the many stone mantels being the popular location.  My dorm room at the college had an actual wood burning stone fireplace.

Prior to World War II, all students were required to study Latin, but following the war, the requirement was dropped.  The Latin tradition is still a part of the campus experience today however, as all graduating students receive a diploma written entirely in Latin.

To put my signature on my work, I like to incorporate the epigram.

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Fireplace in Proctor Hall at the Graduate College of Princeton University.

The Latin epigram can be seen carved on the mantel above the fireplace.

For the Hamilton Mill Branch Library, we printed the words "Bonus intra. Melior exi. Come in good. Go out better.” on the interior glass entry door.

The inscription can also be seen above the fireplace of the Rockmart Library.

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