World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Noli me tangere

Noli me Tangerer by Antonio da Correggio, c. 1525

Noli me tangere, meaning "touch me not" or "don't step on me",[1][2][3] is the Latin version of words spoken, according to John 20:17, by Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she recognized him after his resurrection.

The original Koine Greek phrase, Μή μου ἅπτου (mē mou haptou), is better represented in translation as "cease holding on to me" or "stop clinging to me".[4]

The biblical scene of Mary Magdalene's recognizing Jesus Christ after his resurrection became the subject of a long, widespread and continuous iconographic tradition in Christian art from late antiquity to the present.[5] So Pablo Picasso for example used the painting Noli me tangere by Antonio da Correggio, stored in the Museo del Prado, as an iconographic source for his famous painting La Vie (Cleveland Museum of Art) from the so-called Blue Period.[6]

The words are the motto of Houses Tobin, St. Aubyn, Wormell and Wormald.

The words were also occasionally used to describe a disease known to medieval physicians as a "hidden cancer" or cancer absconditus, as the more the swellings associated with these cancers were handled, the worse they became.[7]


  • Liturgical use 1
  • Echoes 2
  • In art 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7

Liturgical use

The words were a popular trope in Gregorian chant. The supposed moment in which they were spoken was a popular subject for paintings in cycles of the Life of Christ and as single subjects, for which the phrase is the usual title.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church the Gospel lesson on Noli me tangere is one of the Twelve Matins Gospels read during the All Night Vigil on Sunday mornings.


Reverse of the 1861 flag of Alabama

The expression found its way into culture and literature. According to Solinus, white stags found 300 years after Caesar's death had their collars inscribed with "Noli me tangere, Caesaris sum", meaning "Do not touch me, I am Caesar's". This phrase, in turn, appears in the lyric poem "Whoso list to hunt" by 16th-century poet Sir Thomas Wyatt, inscribed on the collar of a hind who stands for the elusive lover hunted (metaphorically) by the speaker: "There is written, her fair neck round about: / Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am."[8]

Historically, the phrase was used by the Confederate States of America in reference to the Gadsden flag—with its derivation "don't tread on me"[3]—and other representations dating to the American War for Independence.[2] In the United States military, the phrase is the motto of the US Army's oldest infantry regiment, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), located at Fort Myer, Virginia; the snake symbol can be found in the coat of arms of the 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters. "Don't tread on me" is also the motto of No. 103 (Bomber) Squadron, Royal Air Force.

The Gadsden flag

In pancreas; the maxim "eat when you can, sleep when you can, don't mess with the pancreas" is commonly found in surgical anecdotes.

In art

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b Shipley 2001, p. 400
  4. ^ See, for instance, "Touch Me Not" by Gary F. Zeolla or Greek Verbs. In fact the form of the verb used is not the aorist imperative, which would indicate momentary or point action, but the present, which indicates an action in progress (Lesson Five - Greek Verbs). When, later in the same chapter, Jesus invites Thomas to touch his side, the aorist imperative is used to indicate the proposed momentary action ( John 20:27). See also , 7.2.2. "The difference between the Present and Aorist Imperatives"The Elements of New Testament GreekJeremy Duff, .
  5. ^ See G. Schiller, "Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst", vol. 3, Auferstehung und Erhöhung Christi, Gütersloh 2 1986 (ISBN 3-579-04137-1), p. 95-98, pl. 275-297; Art. Noli me tangere, in: "Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie", vol. 3 Allgemeine Ikonographie L-R, Rom Freiburg Basel Wien 1971 (ISBN 3-451-22568-9), col. 332-336.
  6. ^ Gereon Becht-Jördens, Peter M. Wehmeier: Picasso und die christliche Ikonographie. Mutterbeziehung und künstlerische Position. Reimer, Berlin 2003, esp. p. 39-42, fig. 1-4 ISBN 3-496-01272-2
  7. ^ Wallis, Faith. "Medieval Medicine: A Reader". University of Toronto Press, 2010, p. 345 ISBN 978-1442601031
  8. ^ Rumens, Carol (10 August 2009). "Poem of the week: Whoso List to Hunt by Thomas Wyatt". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 


  • Cannon, Jr., Devereaux D. (1991), The Flags of the Confederacy: An Illustrated History, St. Lukes Press,  
  • Fischer, David Hackett (2004), Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas, Oxford University Press,  
  • Shipley, Joseph Twadell (2001), The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, The Johns Hopkins University Press,  

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.