Cambridgeshire

Cambridge cyclists warned in Latin and ancient Greek

Sign in Latin and Greek
Image caption The bicycle parked next to the threatening sign had not yet been "destroyed"

Cyclists have been warned in both Latin and ancient Greek not to chain their bicycles to a fence near Cambridge University colleges.

The notice, outside a house in Portugal Place, bears transcriptions in both classical languages stating cycles will be "removed or destroyed" if parked.

But it drew criticism after a picture was posted online, with some pointing out mistakes in the Greek message.

Others said the presence of a bike suggested the sign "hadn't worked".

It is not known how long the warning, behind a building previously used by the Greek Orthodox Church, has been in place.

Classicist Prof Mary Beard, from Newnham College, said the Latin part of the sign translates as "two wheels [cycles] left/abandoned here will be removed".

Selwyn College classics lecturer Dr Rupert Thompson said: "It's trying to say, 'bicycles left here will be destroyed'."

He agreed there were inaccuracies in the Greek warning.

"It's definitely trying to be ancient Greek but it's not quite.

'Two wheels' good

He said both lines of the Greek had used the wrong letters, while one word carries the opposite meaning to that apparently intended.

"The second word, 'ΛΗΦΘΕΝΤΕΣ', actually means 'taken' not 'left'," he said.

"I don't know what to make of it really, but it's very amusing and it's absolutely great to see this in the city."

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Some queried the sign's effectiveness

Both Prof Beard and Dr Thompson, however, agreed the Latin and Greek interpretation of the word "bicycle" was correct.

"Two wheels" was, they said, the best way to describe a bicycle, which was not invented until the early 19th Century.

Many commenting on Twitter called the sign "elitist", while one wrote: "I feel tempted to add some Anglo-Saxon graffiti."

Image copyright Cambridge University
Image caption Cambridge has long claimed to be the UK's "cycling capital", welcoming two-wheeled transport
Image copyright Google
Image caption The sign is on a house behind what used to be a Greek Orthodox Church building

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