F**k the Haters – I Believe in the Liberal Arts!

Aldus Manutius, Preface to Joannes Crastonus’ Greek Dictionary

“I had originally designed not to publish the Greek lexica (which we can call dictionaries in Latin) from our press before I had them sufficiently abundant and correct. But I changed my mind about this when I recognized that it was difficult in the extreme, not just for me – a man burdened by family obligations and my printing business – but even for an unencumbered person thoroughly knowledgeable of both languages, as well as the liberal arts, medicine, and all of the sciences. Indeed it is proper to know all, and to interpret all of the words according to their most proper sense, but I doubt whether anyone of our own time other than a stray person here and there has achieved excellence in this matter, when Greek and Latin literature – though they are thriving more than in many previous years – nevertheless languish in some obscurity.

For, who really knows the liberal arts? Who is thoroughly learned in the most simple things which are necessary in medicine? Alas – it is a shame to say, we hardly recognize lettuce, cabbage, and the herb which shows itself even to the blind. When I think about this, even though I cannot grieve about it too vehemently, I not only refrain from giving way to my pain, but I gird myself night and day to remedy the situation while avoiding no labor, so that I may hope that it will soon come to pass that the people of our age will know all the good arts and even have some fine skill in medicine, and that each scholar will have the strength to contend with antiquity as long as they not fail themselves. If there are any haters, imbeciles, or barbarians, then let them grieve, let them criticize, let them stand in the way as much and as long as they want. But this will turn out beautifully – it will.”



Leave a Reply