Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sidere mens eadem mutato

The re-branding of the University of Sydney is again in the news. I wrote my own brief comment earlier when the new logo was revealed (incorrectly saying "starts may change" rather than "stars may change").

The University's own website explanation of the logo says;

If a literal translation is required, then "The constellation is changed, the disposition is the same" is perhaps appropriate. The ablative absolute in Latin can be used in place of a number of other constructions. Here it probably has a concessive force. "though the constellation is changed..." sidus means primarily in Latin 'a group of stars', 'a constellation'. To translate simply 'star', as many of the suggested translations do, is incorrect. Again, mens in latin has a much wider range of meanings than 'mind', 'the mental functioning of human animals': here, the sense is clearly disposition, e.g. towards learning and scholarship.

Hence it is easy to arrive at the general sense: "The traditions of the older Universities of the Northern Hemisphere are continued in here in the Southern."

The comments by Stuart Rees are that the re-branding is an expensive and largely pointless exercise driven by "management". I somehow think that that's entirely appropriate for the latin motto. Nothing Sydney is doing is any different to the "marketing" efforts of any northern hemisphere university.

And there perhaps is the rub. Success in a managerial or leadership sense doesn't come from being the same as everyone else - it comes from being different.


Anonymous said...

how did the motto:
"The traditions of the older universities of the Northern Hemisphere are continued here in the Southern"
come to be?
Is a juicy conspiracy thing? I mean Integralia is a secret society in USYD.

David Havyatt said...

This rather fascinating comment sent me on a search for "Integralia" - a search that has only turned up this site

The only "secret society" I know of at USyd is "the Old Guard" made up of former student politicians - mostly from the Union not SRC.

Any additional info on Integralia happily received.