More Greek than Greece

Pico della Mirandola, Letter to Angelo Poliziano:

Meanwhile, my dear Angelo, I will imitate you when you excuse yourselves to the Greeks for being Latin and excuse yourself to the Latins for your Greek. I will employ a similar mode of escape when I make my excuses to poets and orators for being said to philosophize, and to the philosophers when I engage in rhetoric and cultivate the Muses. Although our cases are widely different, especially as I wish to sit on twin seats (as they say), I am excluded from both, and at last it happens, if I may put it briefly, that I am neither an orator nor a philosopher. But you have achieved so much in both that it is unclear which you have done better; you who have enfolded both the Greek and the Latin Minerva so beautifully, like a cocktail of each language, that it is impossible to say which elements are native and which are foreign. For (if I may pass over the Latins in silence – for to which of these would you yield first place?) who would believe (as they said of the emperor Hadrian) that a Roman could speak such good Greek? Our dear friend Emmanuel swore, when he read your writings, that they were more Attic than Athens itself.

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Interea imitabor te, Angele, qui te Graecis excusas quod sis Latinus, Latinis quod Graecisses. Simili et ego utar perfugio ut poetis rhetoribusque me approbem propterea quod philosophari dicar, philosophis quod rhetorissem et musas colam. Quanquam mihi longe aliter accidit atque tibi, quippe ego dum geminis sellis (ut aiunt) sedere volo, utraque excludor, fitque demum, ut dicam paucis, ut nec poeta nec rhetor sim, neque philosophus. Tu ita utrunque imples ut utrunque magis haut satis constet, qui et Graecam et nostram Minervam ita pulchre amplectaris, quasi cinnus utriusque linguae, ut quae insiticia sit, quae genuina, non facile discerni possit. Nam ut de Latinis taceam (de his enim cui e primo loco cesseris?), quis credat, ut de Hadriano illo, Romanum hominem tam Graece loqui? Iurabat Emmanuel noster, dum tuas legeret, non esse tam Atticas Athenas ipsas.

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