The Pursuit of Intellectual Pleasure

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Educatione Liberorum XVIII:

When that famous and distinguished man Aristotle was disputing about the pleasures of taste and touch – that is, of food and love – he used to assert that the pleasures which sprang from these senses were the only ones which humans had in comon with beasts, and that on that account anyone who was occupied with these pursuits was to be held in the number of herds and beasts. ‘The pleasures which arise from the other three senses are proper to humans,’ says Eustathius in Macrobius’ Saturnalia. ‘For, what person possessed of any human dignity, would be gratified by these two pleasures of sex and the table, which we share in common with the ass and the pig?’ But it will be more proper to warn a young man than a boy about the pleasure of Venus. Meanwhile, since we are censuring lavish dinners, the opinion of Cato the elder comes into my mind. He was inveighing against the prodigality and unrestrained expenses among the Romans, when he said, ‘Ah! How hard it is to give a speech to the stomach, which has no ears!’


Aristoteles, vir clarus et inclitus, cum de voluptate gustus atque tactus, id est cibi et Veneris, disputaret, quae ab his proficiscerentur sensibus delectationes solas hominibus communes esse cum bestiis asserebat, aqtue idcirco in pecudum haberi ferarumque numero, quisque esset his voluptatibus occupatus. ‘Ceterae ex tribus aliis prodeuntes homini tantum propriae sunt,’ sicut apud Macrobium in Saturnalibus Eustathius affirmat: ‘quis igitur habens aliquid humani pudoris, voluptatibus his duabus, coeundi atque comedendi gratuletur? Quae communes sunt cum asino et sue.’ Sed de Venere adolescentem magis quam puerum commonefacere oportebit. Interim, dum cenarum sumptus reprehendimus, Cato senior venit in mentem, qui cum apud Romanum populum in prodigalitatem et immodicos sumptus inveheretur, ‘vah! quam,’ inquit, ‘difficile est ad ventrem orationem habere, qui aures nullas habet!’

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