On The Dangers of Not Being Trained in the Classics

Julian, Fragment of a letter to a priest, 296a

“The reason [they are unwise] is that they don’t give their mind over to be cleansed by the traditional curriculum and they do not open those tightly closed eyes with it and clear the mist that has settled over them.

But because these people are like those who see a great light through a fog neither clearly nor sharply and because they think they do not see a clear light but a fire and they cannot see anything around it, they shout “Be afraid, shake, fire, flame, death, knife, blade…” interpreting in many names the force of a fire. Ah, it would be a lot easier to show how much worse than our own poets are these teachers of tales about ‘god’.”

αἴτιον δέ, ὅτι τὴν ἑαυτῶν ψυχὴν οὐ παρέσχον ἀποκαθῆραι τοῖς ἐγκυκλίοις μαθήμασιν οὐδὲ ἀνοῖξαι μεμυκότα λίαν τὰ ὄμματα οὐδὲ ἀνακαθῆραι τὴν ἐπικειμένην αὐτοῖς ἀχλύν, ἀλλ᾿ οἷον φῶς μέγα δι᾿ ὁμίχλης οἱ ἄνθρωποι βλέποντες οὐ καθαρῶς οὐδὲ εἰλικρινῶς, αὐτὸ δὲ ἐκεῖνο νενομικότες οὐχὶ φῶς καθαρόν, ἀλλὰ πῦρ καὶ τῶν περὶ αὐτὸ πάντων ὄντες ἀθέατοι βοῶσι μέγα· Φρίττετε, φοβεῖσθε, πῦρ, φλόξ, θάνατος, μάχαιρα, ῥομφαία, πολλοῖς ὀνόμασι μίαν ἐξηγούμενοι τὴν βλαπτικὴν τοῦ πυρὸς δύναμιν. ἀλλ᾿ ὑπὲρ μὲν τούτων ἰδίᾳ βέλτιον παραστῆσαι, πόσῳ φαυλότεροι τῶν παρ᾿ ἡμῖν οὗτοι γεγόνασι ποιητῶν οἱ τῶν ὑπὲρ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγων διδάσκαλοι.

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Julian the Apostate.

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