Forget Virtue, Study Vice!

Poggio Bracciolini, Facetiae 23:

“In the Roman Curia, Fortune holds the most power, and I was searching to see whether it be a place for intelligence or for virtue. But all things are obtained by ambition and opportunity (not to mention money, which appears to reign all over the world.) A certain friend of mind, who was vexed that many people inferior to him in learning and morals were nevertheless preferred to him, was complaining to Angelotto, the cardinal of St. Mark’s, that his virtue was of no account but was an afterthought when compared to those who were not his equals. He recollected all of his studies, and all of his labors in learning. Then, the cardinal, who was always ready to chastise the vices of the Curia, said, ‘Here knowledge and learning will do you no good. But go on and apply yourself to forgetting them and learning instead some idle vices, if you want to be accepted into the Pope’s favor.”

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In Curia Romana ut plurimum Fortuna dominatur, cum perraro locus sit vel ingenio, vel virtuti; sed ambitione et opportunitate parantur omnia, ut de nummis sileam, qui ubique terrarum imperare videntur. Amicus quidam, qui aegre ferebat praeferri sibi multos doctrina et probitate inferiores, querebatur apud Angelottum cardinalem Sancti Marci nullam haberi suae virtutis rationem, sed postponi his, qui nulla in re sibi pares essent. Sua insuper studia commemoravit, et in discendo labores. Tum promptus ad lacessendum Curiae vitia cardinalis, “Hic scientia et doctrina” inquit “nihil prosunt. Sed perge et aliquod tempus ad dediscendum et addiscendum vitia vaca, si vis Pontifici acceptus esse”.

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