Abundant Citation of Poets

Leonardo Bruni de Studiis et Litteris XX

“I would also have her read and understand the poets. For, who among the most learned men do we see without this knowledge? Aristotle certainly loaded his works with citations of Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, Euripides, and the other poets; he held them in memory and brought them forth with such great ease that he appears to have been no less studious of poetry than he was of philosophy. Even among Plato there is the most frequent citation of poets; they occur in him everywhere – nay, are even brought in needlessly – and he often shores up his own authority by reference to theirs. I have spoken thus far about the Greeks, but what about our authors? Does Cicero appear to have been insufficiently versed in poetry, when he was not content simply to cite Ennius, Pacuvius, Accius, and our other poets, but even translated Greek poems into Latin and published entire books of them? What about Seneca. Sure, he was a hard and severe man, but did he himself not write poems and on occasion gush forth with verses? I don’t even bother to mention Augustine, Jerome, Lactantius, and Boethius; their writings make sufficiently clear just how much poetry they knew.”

Poetas insuper ut et legat et intelligat, volo. Quem enim summorum virorum expertem huius cognitionis fuisse videmus? Aristoteles certe Homeri, Hesiodi, Pindari, Euripidis, ceterorumque poetarum versus frequentissime ponit tenetque omnes memoriter et facillime reddit, ut appareat illum non poetarum fere minus quam philosophorum studiosum fuisse. Apud Platonem quoque poetarum usus frequentissimus est, occuruntque illi ubique atque ultro se offerunt, auctoritateque illorum sua saepe confirmat. Dixi de Graecis. Quid autem nostri? An Cicero parum structus poetarum cognitione videtur, qui, non contentus Ennio, Pacuvio, Accio, ceterisque nostris, Graecorum insuper poemata in Latinum convertit totosque libros suos illos refersit? Quid Seneca, durus profecto vir atque severus: nonne et ipse poemata scripsit et totus interdum scaturit versibus? Mitto Augustinum, Hieronymum, Lactantium, Boethium, in quibus quanta cognitio poetarum fuerit, scripta eorum disputataque ostendunt.

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