The Upper Crust vs. Library Dust

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 28.4.14-15:

Certain people, despising learning like a poison, read Juvenal and Marius Maximus with studious diligence, turning over no volumes but these in the deep reveries of their leisure. The reason for this is not within the ambit of my petty judgment.

In truth, they should read over many and various things, considering the greatness of their honors and their ancestors. They should hear, for example, that Socrates was set for punishment, thrown into prison, and still asked someone who was skillfully playing a song of Stesichorus to teach him how to do that while he still had time; and that when the musician asked what good it could be to him when he was set to die the next day, Socrates responded, ‘so that I can leave life knowing a little more.’

Quidam detestantes ut venena doctrinas, Iuvenalem et Marium Maximum curatiore studio legunt, nulla volumina praeter haec in profundo otio contrectantes, quam ob causam non iudicioli est nostri.

cum multa et varia pro amplitudine gloriarum et generum lectitare deberent, audientes destinatum poenae Socratem, coniectumque in carcerem, rogasse quendam scite lyrici carmen Stesichori modulantem, ut doceretur id agere, dum liceret : interroganteque musico quid ei poterit hoc prodesse morituro postridie, respondisse ‘ut aliquid sciens amplius e vita discedam”.

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