No One Studies Literature Anymore!

Leonardo Bruni, de Studiis et Litteris III:

“Such marvelous intelligence, and such a remarkable intellect was not given to you in vain, and you should not be content with middling pursuits – you should look to and strive for the highest peaks. Your praise will be higher than that of those other women, because they flourished in those ages in which there was such a great superabundance of educated people that their very number decreased the admiration for their talents. You, however, will flourish in this times, in which these studies have been so degraded that it is a miracle to find an educated man, not to mention an educated woman. I do not consider erudition to be that common and confused sort of education which those professors of theology now make use of, but rather a legitimate and noble sort, which joins experience in literature with knowledge of the world; we find this sort of learning in Lactantius, in Augustine, in Jerome – to be sure, these were the best theologians, and had attained the highest level of literary knowledge. Now, though, it is a shame how little of literature those who now profess that subject actually know.”

Tantum enim intelligentiam ac tam singulare ingenium nec frustra tibi datum nec mediocribus contentum esse decet, sed ad summa spectare atque adniti. Et tua quidem laus illustrior erit quam illarum fuit, propterea quod illae his saeculis floruere in quibus eruditorum hominum magna supererat copia, ut multitudo ipsa minueret admirationem, tu autem his temporibus florebis in quibus usque adeo prolapsa studia sunt, ut miraculi iam loco habeatur videre virum, nedum feminam eruditam. Eruditionem autem intelligo non vulgarem istam et perturbatam, quali utuntur ii qui nunc theologiam profitentur, sed legitimam illam et ingenuam, quae litterarum peritiam cum rerum scientia coniungit; qualis in Lactantio Firmiano, qualis in Aurelio Augustino, qualis in Hieronymo fuit, summis profecto theologis ac perfectis in litteris viris. Nunc vero, qui eam scientiam profitentur, pudendum est quam parum persciant litterarum.

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