Grammar is Bread, Ignorance is Gruel

Lorenzo Valla, Ars Grammatica 15-29

It is a bad teacher who does not exemplify their own rules, and there were several of these in centuries gone by, because they did not flip through the learned books of the ancients. So come on kids, sing with me in Latin, and consider this learning as something like bread, which is good by itself and also enhances other dishes. Every art is in need of Grammar, but it needs none of them, and those who don’t know Grammar are definitely just eating gruel. So come on kids, take this bread from my lips, which will make your bodies robust and minister strength to you. For you will read many things written in no books except in ours, although Bostar and Aspar dare to transfer them into their own pamphlets – I mean, what a disgrace! Laugh at them with me, as though they were little crows wearing the peacock’s tail or geese strutting around like swans.

Doctor enim malus est in quo sua non radiat lex,

quales iam seclis aliquot plerique fuere

quod libros veterum non evolvere disertos.

Quare agite, o pueri, mecum cantate latine,

assimilem pani doctrinam hanc esse putantes

que per se valet et reliquas corroborat escas;

indiga grammatice queque ars est, nullius illa,

quam qui non norunt vescuntur pulte profecto.

Hunc, pueri, nostra de voce capessite panem

qui corpus solidum reddat viresque ministret;

namque legetis adhuc in nullis scripta libellis

multa nisi in nostris quamvis ea Bostar et Aspar

in chartas transferre suas, o dedecus, audent!

quos mecum ridete, velut cornicula pavi

si gestet caudam vel se ferat anser olorem.

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