Tag Archives: The Devil’s Dictionary

At Death’s Door: Beautiful Mausoleum Doors & Gates At Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

An Artistic Treasure – Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery Mausoleum Doors And Gates

Frederick Kampfe mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Frederick Kampfe mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Ambrose Bierce in his Devil’s Dictionary defined a mausoleum as “the final and funniest folly of the rich.”

Of course some of the mausoleums at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn are elaborate and cost as much as a nice house back in the day. But regardless of Bierce’s cynicism, many of the wealthy spent large amounts of money hiring top architects to design and build their final resting places in hopes of producing eternal shrines to themselves. While many names emblazoned on the tombs are now forgotten, their inhabitants ended up with some beautiful and memorable architectural work that because of their location, a cemetery, is not seen by many.

Thorne - Smith mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Thorne – Smith mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Here we are focusing on the doors and gates to these mausoleums which were done by artisans of the highest caliber. Some are ornate, some are ostentatious, and some are simple yet elegant.

While some of the decorations on the doors are purely artistic in form, others display symbols which have deeper meanings. Because these mausoleums were commissioned works, the symbolism displayed on the doors was usually well thought out by their owners.

In the 19th and early 20th century many people who visited cemeteries understood the subtle meanings of the icons. It is now mostly a lost art, with crosses, Stars of David, and other common symbols dominating newer funeral markers.

Let us pause and gaze at a few examples of mausoleum portals featuring old school craftsmanship at fabulous Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. (click any ph0to to enlarge)

Peter Moller mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Peter Moller mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Valentine Mott mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Valentine Mott mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

The large angel in relief is flanked on top by two smaller angels blowing trumpets representing the Call to the Resurrection.

Acea mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

Acea mausoleum door Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

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The Devil’s Dictionary – Giving Words New Meanings

25 Definitions From The Devil’s Dictionary By Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce ph - Topham _ Cordon PressAmbrose Bierce (1842-1913?) was the cynic’s cynic. A writer and reporter of immense talent, Bierce served in the Union army during the American Civil War and was seriously wounded in the head. Bierce’s most famous work is the short war story “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.”

Satiric and biting in his verse, Bierce first published The Cynic’s Word Book in 1906 which contained uninhibited definitions of words from A-L. The second half of the work containing words from M-Z was published as The Devil’s Dictionary in 1911, which was the title Bierce preferred. It has been in print now for over 100 years and many of it’s tongue-in-cheek definitions are still quoted today. It is now in the public domain, so the book is available online for free and worth reading.

Bierce travelled to Mexico in 1913 to witness the Mexican Civil War and vanished without a trace.

Here are 25 of the best definitions from The Devil’s Dictionary:

APOLOGIZE, v.i.  To lay the foundation for a future offence.
BELLADONNA, n.  In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly
poison.  A striking example of the essential identity of the two
tongues.
CAPITAL, n.  The seat of misgovernment.  That which provides the 
fire, the pot, the dinner, the table and the knife and fork for
the anarchist; the part of the repast that himself supplies is
the disgrace before meat.
CHRISTIAN, n.  One who believes that the New Testament is a 
divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of 
of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so  
far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
DIPLOMACY, n.  The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
FAITH, n.  Belief without evidence in what is told by one who
speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
FRIENDLESS, adj.  Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of 
fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
HAPPINESS, n.  An agreeable sensation arising from contemplating
the misery of another. Continue reading