True Philology That Brings Health to the Soul

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III – Barthold Georg Niebuhr

“In 1822 he [Niebuhr] addressed, to a young friend, a memorable letter, in which he sets forth a high ideal of a scholar’s life. The authors specially recommended for study are Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Pindar, with Herodotus, Thucydides, Demosthenes and Plutarch, and Cicero, Livy, Caesar, Sallust and Tacitus. All these were to be read with reverence, not with a view to making them the themes of aesthetic criticism, but with a resolve to assimilate their spirit. This (he declares) is the true ‘Philology’ that brings health to the soul, while learned investigations (in the case of such as attain to them) belong to a lower level.”

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One response

  1. Somewhere Petrarch has a lovely explanation of why “the humanities” are so-called — I abridge — because their great end and purpose consist in the increase of “benevolentia mutua animorum.”

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