F**k My Critics

Jerome, Commentarius in Michaeam Prophetam

“We are always responding to the haters, because jealousy never leaves off, and the introductions of our books confute the shit-talk of our detractors, who commonly toss it about that I write certain trifles of sterile and empty speech, and claim that while I know not how to speak I am unable to be silent. So I pray you, Paula and Eustochius, shut your ears to barkings like this, and assisting my inability to speak with your payers, try to bring about an opening of my mouth from the apostle, so that it can be adapted to one speaking of the scriptures.

The lord will grant the word to those who evangelize with much virtue. I, however, warn the fat bulls, who have surrounded me, to be silent and to cease their maledictions, lest they come to learn their own wicked deeds. For when they say that I have plucked from the volumes of Origen and that it is improper for the writings of our predecessors to be contaminated, they think that it is an insult to me, but I count it as a great compliment, since I wish to imitate him, who, I have no doubt, pleases you and all wise people.

For if it is a crime to translate the things which Greeks have said well, then Ennius and Vergil, Plautus, Caecilius and Terence, Cicero, and other eloquent men should be brought to trial, since they not only translated some verses, but many chapters and even the longest books and complete plays.”

Image result for the critic

Semper invidis respondemus, quia non cessat invidia, et librorum nostrorum exordia aemulorum maledicta confutant, qui vulgo iactant, me sterilis ieiunique sermonis quasdam ineptias scribere, et cum loqui nesciam, tacere non posse. Itaque obsecro vos, o Paula et Eustochium, ut ad huiuscemodi latratus claudatis aures, et infantiam, ut dicunt, meam orationibus adiuvantes, impetretis mihi iuxta apostolum adapertionem oris mei, ut de scripturis loquenti adaptari possit: Dominus dabit verbum evangelizantibus virtute multa. Moneo autem tauros pingues, qui circumdederunt me, ut quiescant et desinant maledicere, malefacta ne noscant sua, quae proferentur post, si pergent laedere. Nam quod dicunt, Origenis me volumina compilare, et contaminari non decere veterum scripta, quod illi maledictum vehemens esse existimant, eandem laudem ego maximam duco, cum illum imitari volo, quem cunctis prudentibus, et vobis placere non dubito. Si enim criminis est Graecorum bene dicta transferre, accusentur Ennius et Maro, Plautus, Caecilius et Terentius, Tullius quoque et ceteri eloquentes viri, qui non solum versus, sed multa capita et longissimos libros ac fabulas integras transtulerunt.

5 thoughts on “F**k My Critics

    1. Whoa, thanks for catching that! I confess that I was drafting this up at work and paying something less than complete attention to what I was doing.

      1. No problem. I wouldn’t have caught it except for the mention of Origen. Tertullian was a closer contemporary than I realized, but I don’t know if he ever read Origen. Jerome, on the other hand, famously did.

      2. The Origen mention surprised me too especially since Jerome came to accuse Rufinus of Origenism. Jerome certainly cited Origen but this letter reads like him trying to prove to critics that he loves Origen, which would further incriminate him.

      3. Early on, Jerome was influenced by Origen’s commentaries, and Origen was very popular in his time. Only later did Jerome turn on him. I suspect this is from that earlier period, but I don’t know for sure.

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