Neoptolemus on Philosophy Again, and Ennius’ “Shitty” Poem

“Only a few must be philosophers, for it’s hardly the sort of thing to please all around.”

philosophandum est paucis, nam omnino haut placet

This is attributed to Ennius by Aulus Gellius 5.15.9. Combined with the note which Gellius made (see previous post), one gets the impression that Ennius’ poem was full of silly anachronism and an attempt at developing sassy sententiae. Perhaps it is no accident that Vergil claimed to look for gold among the shit-heap of Ennius:

“When Vergil was reading Ennius and was asked by someone what he was doing, he said, ‘Looking for gold in a pile of shit.'”

Vergilius, dum Ennium legeret, a quodam quid faceret inquisitus, respondit: aurum in stercore quaerere.

(Institutes of Divine and Secular Learning 1.1.8)

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