How to Kindle the Love of Virtue Itself

Vergerio, de ingenuis moribus et liberalibus adulescentiae studiis, VI:

“The first proofs of a liberal mind are being excited by the pursuit of praise and being inflamed by a love of glory, from whence arises that envy which is in some way noble, and a contention, lacking hate, for praise and goodness. The next sign is willing obedience to one’s elders and a lack of obstinate resistance to good advisors. For, just as those horses are considered best for war which can easily be controlled by the hand, and which leap forth with pricked-up ears at the sound of the trumpets, so too those youths who listen well to their advisors and, when praised, are goaded on to the pursuit of the good, appear to hold out before them the promise of a rich harvest. For, since those who are not yet educated cannot by force of reason embrace the good itself and the appearance of virtue and nobility – which, could it be seen by the eyes (so says Plato, and so does Cicero note) would excite the most marvelous passions for wisdom – the next step is that they, through their zeal for praise and glory, form the desire of striving for the noblest ends.”

Omnino autem liberalis ingenii primum argumentum est studio laudis excitari incendique amore gloriae, unde oritur generosa quaedam invidia et sine odio de laude probitateque contentio. Proximum vero, parere libenter maioribus nec esse bene monentibus contumaces. Nam ut equi meliores ad pugnam habentur qui faciles sunt manu regi et ad tubarum clangorem arrectis auribus exsultant, ita qui iuvenum bene audiunt monitoribus et laudati excitantur ad bonum, uberis spem frugis ferre prae se videntur. Cum enim bonum ipsum virtutis honestatisque faciem inexperti rerum complecti ratione non possunt – quae si posset oculis videri, mirabiles ad sapientiam (un inquit Plato et Cicero meminit) de se amores excitaret – proximum est ab hoc gradu ut gloriae laudisque studio ad optima conari velint.

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