Quality over Quantity in Quotations: Do As We Say Not As…

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights Preface, 12-13

“But I did not have the same plan when I was making selections and notes as those many others. For all of them—and especially the Greeks—by reading many varied things in which they would underline certain matters “with a white line”—as the saying goes—they used to just mass everything together without concern for judgment, because they were only in pursuit of quantity.

The mind will tire quickly in reading these because before it finds one thing or another which might be a pleasure to read or nurturing to have heard or useful to remember. For this reason, because I have taken to heart that smartest word of the Ephesian that “knowing much doesn’t teaching you to think”, I wore myself out in rolling and returning many scrolls at every moment free from my regular business when I might be able to spare the time.

But I still selected very few portions from each which were ready and easy examples to provide quick and ready erudition or the study of the useful arts or to preserve people who are super busy with the obligations of life from a base and unsophisticated ignorance of words and things.”

Sed ne consilium quidem in excerpendis notandisque rebus idem mihi, quod plerisque illis, fuit. Namque illi omnes et eorum maxime Graeci, multa et varia lectitantes, in quas res cumque inciderant, “alba,” ut dicitur, “linea” sine cura discriminis solam copiam sectati converrebant, quibus in legendis ante animus senio ac taedio languebit quam unum alterumve reppererit quod sit aut voluptati legere aut cultui legisse aut usui meminisse. Ego vero, cum illud Ephesii viri summe nobilis verbum cordi haberem, quod profecto ita est πολυμαθίη νόον οὐ διδάσκει, ipse quidem volvendis transeundisque multis admodum voluminibus per omnia semper negotiorum intervalla in quibus furari otium potui exercitus defessusque sum, sed modica ex his eaque sola accepi quae aut ingenia prompta expeditaque ad honestae eruditionis cupidinem utiliumque artium contemplationem celeri facilique compendio ducerent aut homines aliis iam vitae negotiis occupatos a turpi certe agrestique rerum atque verborum imperitia vindicarent.

From Medievalists.net

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