An Encomium to the Life of the Mind

C.G. Cobet, Protrepticus ad Studia Humanitatis (Quoted in Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. III)

“To cultivate the soul and mind by study; to sharpen all of the gifts of intellect by the observation and consideration of useful things; to increase our faculty of understanding every day; to know ancient things and, once known, to emend and amplify them; to discover new things by thought and to inquire after the causes of things; to examine the origin and progress of things; to explain the present through the past; to make obscure and intricate things easier; to separate true from false; to refute, knock down, and drag away trifling and absurd things and, in short, to see the truth – this at last is worthy of the human intellect and reason; this is the food of the mind; this, finally, is what it means to live and have the full profit of one’s soul!”

Excolere animum et mentem doctrina, rerum utilium observatione et cognitione ingenii dotes omnes acuere, intelligendi facultatem in dies augere, vetera nosse et cognita emendare et amplificare, nova excogitando reperire, inquirere in rerum causas, perscrutari rerum originem et progressum, ex veteribus praesentia explicare, obscura et intricata expedire, ubique vera a falsis discernere, prava et vitiosa corrigere, futilia et absurda confutare, labefactare, tollere, et, ut uno verbo absolvam, verum videre, hoc demum est humano ingenio ac ratione dignum, hoc pabulum est animi, hoc demum est vivere et frui anima denique!

3 thoughts on “An Encomium to the Life of the Mind

  1. A fascinating sentence from Cobet. He expresses sentiments with which I find it hard to disagree but in a sentence I find it hard to admire. Doesn’t he really expose the pretentiousness of so much 19th century Latin writing by this entry in the “Longest Sentence of the Year’ competition? The “I can make my sentences longer than Cicero” intellectual snobbery is what put so many students off studying the language.

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