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The phrase Nemo Me Impune Lacessit is boldly emblazoned above the gates of Edinburgh castle. In Glasgow it can be seen at The High Court, Mercat Cross, and even the Anderston Savings Bank. It has been much inscribed on coins, some dating from the mid 1600s, some still in circulation today.
Athelstaneford a village some 20 miles from Edinburgh is considered the birthplace of the Scottish flag. Here you can visit the Saltire memorial commemorating King Angus vision of St Andrew's cross. Saint Andrew and the Saltire are also among the stone figures found on Glasgow's Anderston Savings Bank.
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Nemo Me Impune Lacessit is not only the motto of the chivalric Order of the Thistle, but has also been adopted as the motto of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Royal Scots Greys, Scots Guards, Royal Scots, Cameronians, Black Watch, 42nd Highlanders and the Royal Highland Fusiliers. (The RHF uses the plural form Nemo Nos Impune Lacessit- No One Harms Us with Impunity).
Here in the United States this compelling Latin phrase has come to express unity in loss when displayed at police memorial functions and when worn as a mourning band across a police officer's badge to commemorate a comrade fallen in the line of duty.
books to read...
The phrase has taken on a life in literature as well. James Fenimore Cooper quotes it The Last of the Mohicans (1826). Edgar Allan Poe makes it Montressor's family motto in his Cask of Amontillado (1846). Certainly its influence can be seen in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1873). His Captain Nemo seems to be the very embodiment of the unspoken ideal. In Charles Dickens' Bleak House (1853) Nemo (No One or Nobody) is the name given to a dead opium addict. And in Latin translations of Homer's Odyssey (800 BCE) Nemo is the name used by Ulysses to dupe the Cyclops who reports back to his father Neptune that Nobody has injured him.