Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.
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νίψον ἀνομήματα μὴ μόναν ὄψιν
Nípson anomḗmata mḕ mónan ópsin
Wash the sins not only the face
In addition to the meaning of the phrase, its literal letter-by-letter construction is interesting.
Nipson anomēmata mē monan opsin (Ancient Greek: Νίψον ἀνομήματα, μὴ μόναν ὄψιν), meaning “Wash the sins, not only the face”, or “Wash my transgressions, not only my face”, is a Greek palindrome[fn 1] that was inscribed upon a holy water font outside the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople:
The phrase is attributed to the fourth-century Saint Gregory of Nazianzus.
When the sentence is rendered in capital letters, as would be usual for an inscription (ΝΙΨΟΝΑΝΟΜΗΜΑΤΑΜΗΜΟΝΑΝΟΨΙΝ), all the letters are vertically symmetrical except for the Ν. As a result, if the N is stylized Ͷ in the right half, the sentence is not only a palindrome but also a mirror ambigram.