"Do not lacerate your bodies for the dead, and do not tattoo yourselves. I am the LORD."
Imperatrix pulcherrima Africae occidentalis and I are giving each other tattoos as wedding presents. Yes, I know about the prohibition in Leviticus, but hey, I also trim the hair of my beard, which is forbidden by the previous verse. Most commentaries on these commandments identify them as forbidding actions involved in specific Canaanite mourning practices. In the end, I think for Christians they go the way of the dietary restrictions also found in Leviticus. Since allergy keeps me from enjoying the permission to eat shrimp, getting a tattoo will have to be my consolation prize.
We decided that we would engrave on our rings messages to each other from the Song of Songs, in Latin. My ring will have "dilectus meus mihi et ego illi" -- "My lover belongs to me and I to him" [Songs 2:15]. Her small ring has only enough room for "tota pulchra es" -- "You are all-beautiful" [Songs 4:7]. We thought then we would each have a tattoo of a longer version of our message.
This is where I need your advice, oh loyal sententites. Where shall I get it? In what form? How many words? I'm thinking of either the upper arm or the shoulder. I'm more inclined to the former, because I want to be able to see it. If I put it on my arm, should it be a band or more like a paragraph? Should there be a frame?
Finally, how much should I put? I like this verse and the two following. Should I put all of it? Excerpts? Let me give you all three verses in Latin, then the Douay-Rheims translation (from the Latin), then the New American version:
[tota pulchra es] amica mea et macula non est in te//
veni de Libano sponsa veni de Libano veni coronaberis de capite Amana de vertice Sanir et Hermon de cubilibus leonum de montibus pardorum//
vulnerasti cor meum soror mea sponsa vulnerasti cor meum in uno oculorum tuorum et in uno crine colli tui
[Thou art all fair,] O my love, and there is not a spot in thee.//
Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come: thou shalt be crowned from the top of Amana, from the top of Sanir and Hermon, from the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards.//
Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast wounded my heart with one of thy eyes, and with one hair of thy neck. [D-R]
[You are all-beautiful,] my beloved,
and there is no blemish in you.//
Come from Lebanon, my bride,
come from Lebanon, come!
Descend from the top of Amana,
from the top of Senir and Hermon,
From the haunts of lions,
from the leopards' mountains.//
Let me hear what you think.