A Motto for Any Classicist

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. II:

“In March, 1622, he [Hugo Grotius] fled to Paris, where he found friends among the scholars of the time, such as Salmasius and Peirescius. Once, in the company of the latter, a stranger asked how he could become as learned as Peirescius and Grotius, when Grotius replied: ‘Lege Veteres, sperne recentiores, et eris noster’. [‘Read the ancients, ignore the moderns, and you will be one of us.’]”

3 thoughts on “A Motto for Any Classicist

  1. It is a pretty good motto for Classicists before the 1950s….

    And those now who hate literary theory and any kind of reception.

    The translation “one of us” made me think of this

    1. Oh, I still thoroughly enjoy posturing as a crusty old-school Classicist. One of my most vivid memories of my early days as an undergraduate was Paul Alessi saying, “Remember, for Dr. Alessi, everything after the Renaissance is ‘current affairs’.”

      Actually, I was once on a date and got into a debate about the comparative merits of ancient and modern literature, in which I fiercely but paradoxically maintained that everything written after 1900 was “entirely irrelevant.” Of course, she had no idea that two of my favorite books are 20th-century works, and took the statement at face value; but the date was going nowhere anyway.

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