Learn Some Vices!

Poggio Bracciolini, Facetiae 23:

In the Roman Curia Fortune has the most sway, since there is very rarely any place for talent or virtue. Everything is offered up either by ambition or by chance (I will remain silent about the influence of money, which seems to command influence everywhere in the world). A certain friend, who was vexed that many people inferior to him in learning and morals were nevertheless preferred to him, was complaining with Angelottus, a cardinal of St. Mark, that no account was made of his virtues, but that he was placed behind the men who were in no way equal to him. He then added some recollections of his own studies and his labors in learning. Then, the Cardinal, ever prompt in chastising the vices of the Curia, said, ‘Here knowledge and learning are of no use. But persevere, and set aside some free time to unlearn some things and acquire some vices, if you want to be accepted by the Pope.’

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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