47. Phi Beta Delta: Plures

The letter P was considered among the most elegant by medieval illustrators. The famous Lindisfarne Gospel written about AD 695 has an outstanding page where the word plures, meaning "many people" appears with the P fashioned out of a dragon and a seagull. The letter itself is one of the oldest in our alphabet, and appears in Phoenician about 1000 BC. The Greek language adopted Phoenician letters, including P, about 800 BC, and then P continued on its journey, finding its way into Latin. The standard for the later development of P is the capital P in the Trajan Inscription of AD 113. This Roman inscription provided the model for subsequent Ps. printes (naturally) are still partial to it as a letter, feeling it has great style in its shape and design.

As an abbreviation P stands for phosphorus in chemistry and for softly in music. We all know the phrase "mind your p's and q's". The humorist James Thurber wrote, "The letter P, that broad, provocative expanse between O and Q, is one of the most ambivalent of all the twenty-six, for in it one finds pleasure and pain, peace and pandemonium, prosperity and poverty, power and pusillanimity..." He might have added that it is fortuitously the first letter in our first name as Phi Beta Delta, and we sincerely hope that we always do as members mind our Ps.

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