Francesco Filelfo, Letter to Lorenzo Medici (Part 23)
“If Leonardo and Poggio had possessed knowledge of both the literary and the common language in Greek, they would have never fallen into such an error. But Leonardo had only a passing knowledge of Greek literature, which Poggio didn’t know at all; but neither of them knew the common Greek.
By God, even little Greek ladies will decline names through all cases and numbers, and change the verbs through all tenses and moods in the same person, in numbers and times far better than either of those two could do in Italian or Latin, common or literary: it’s clear that they were a bit less diligent in some of their studies, especially Poggio.
As far as declension goes, let Varro respond to Leonardo: ‘Even brand new slaves purchased in a great family quickly decline the names of their fellow slaves through the oblique cases once they know the nominative.’”
Si et Leonardus et Poggius graecam litteraturam vulgaremque linguam tenuissent, nunquam in tantum cecidissent erroris. Sed litteraturam Leonardus mediocriter tenebat, quam Poggius ignorabat omnino; at linguam vulgarem sciebat neuter.
Mediusfidius mulierculae ipsae graecae et declinabunt nomina per omnis casus ac numeros, et variabunt verba per omnia tempora ac modos, servatis personis, numeris ac temporibus longe melius quam uterque ipsorum ea, quae nostrae sunt aut latinitatis aut litteraturae: quos constat in plaerisque minus aliquando diligentis fuisse, et praesertim Poggium.
Nam, quod ad declinationem attinet, respondeat Leonardo M. Varro, qui ita ait: “Novitii etiam servi empti in magna familia cito omnia conservorum nomina, recto casu accepto, per reliquos obliquos declinant”.