The medal of the Swedish Academy represents a young man sitting under a laurel tree who, enchanted, listens to and writes down the song of the Muse.
The inscription reads:
Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes
The words on the medal mean literally: It is beneficial to have improved (human) life through discovered arts.
These words are adapted from Vergil’s Aeneid, book 6, line 663,
inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes
There the hero Aeneas is in the underworld and looking upon the spirits of past human beings who made great contributions to the betterment of humankind by their unique creations and discoveries in what we now call artes et scientiae, the arts and sciences.
The original line was ably rendered by William Morris in 1876 as follows:
and they who bettered life on earth by new-found mastery
The name of the Laureate is engraved on the plate below the figures, and the text “ACAD. SUEC.” stands for the Swedish Academy.
The Nobel Prize Medal for Literature was designed by Erik Lindberg.
Since 2012 the Nobel Medals has been manufactured by Svenska Medalj in Eskilstuna.
More on the Nobel Medals and the Medal for the Prize in Economic Sciences:
Physics and Chemistry
Physiology or Medicine
Text updated in January 2019.