Lacedaemon? More Like LaceDUMBon!

Aelian, Historia Varia 3.50:

The Spartans kept themselves wholly ignorant of the arts, for they cared about exercise and arms. If they ever needed something derived from the Muses, either because they were sick or ailing in the mind or suffering some other public problem, they would send for foreigners – either doctors, or exorcists in accordance with an oracle. They sent for Terpander, and Thales, and Tyrtaeus, and Nymphaeus of Cydonia, and Alcman. Thucydides agrees that they had no enthusiasm for education in the part of his book where he talks about Brasidas, and says that he was unable to speak, just like a Spartan.

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Λακεδαιμόνιοι μουσικῆς ἀπείρως εἶχον· ἔμελε γὰρ αὐτοῖς γυμνασίων καὶ ὅπλων. εἰ δέ ποτε ἐδεήθησαν τῆς ἐκ Μουσῶν ἐπικουρίας ἢ νοσήσαντες ἢ παραφρονήσαντες ἢ ἄλλο τι τοιοῦτον δημοσίᾳ παθόντες, μετεπέμποντο ξένους ἄνδρας οἷον ἰατροὺς ἢ καθαρτὰς κατὰ πυθόχρηστον. μετεπέμψαντό γε μὴν Τέρπανδρον καὶ Θάλητα καὶ Τυρταῖον καὶ τὸν Κυδωνιάτην Νυμφαῖον καὶ ᾿Αλκμᾶνα. καὶ Θουκυδίδης δὲ ὁμολογεῖ ὅτι μὴ ἐσπουδασμένως περὶ παιδείαν εἶχον, ἐν οἷς λέγει περὶ Βρασίδου. λέγει γοῦν ὅτι ἦν οὐ δὲ ἀδύνατος εἰπεῖν, ὡς Λακεδαιμόνιος.

How to Kindle the Love of Virtue Itself

Vergerio, de ingenuis moribus et liberalibus adulescentiae studiis, VI:

“The first proofs of a liberal mind are being excited by the pursuit of praise and being inflamed by a love of glory, from whence arises that envy which is in some way noble, and a contention, lacking hate, for praise and goodness. The next sign is willing obedience to one’s elders and a lack of obstinate resistance to good advisors. For, just as those horses are considered best for war which can easily be controlled by the hand, and which leap forth with pricked-up ears at the sound of the trumpets, so too those youths who listen well to their advisors and, when praised, are goaded on to the pursuit of the good, appear to hold out before them the promise of a rich harvest. For, since those who are not yet educated cannot by force of reason embrace the good itself and the appearance of virtue and nobility – which, could it be seen by the eyes (so says Plato, and so does Cicero note) would excite the most marvelous passions for wisdom – the next step is that they, through their zeal for praise and glory, form the desire of striving for the noblest ends.”

Omnino autem liberalis ingenii primum argumentum est studio laudis excitari incendique amore gloriae, unde oritur generosa quaedam invidia et sine odio de laude probitateque contentio. Proximum vero, parere libenter maioribus nec esse bene monentibus contumaces. Nam ut equi meliores ad pugnam habentur qui faciles sunt manu regi et ad tubarum clangorem arrectis auribus exsultant, ita qui iuvenum bene audiunt monitoribus et laudati excitantur ad bonum, uberis spem frugis ferre prae se videntur. Cum enim bonum ipsum virtutis honestatisque faciem inexperti rerum complecti ratione non possunt – quae si posset oculis videri, mirabiles ad sapientiam (un inquit Plato et Cicero meminit) de se amores excitaret – proximum est ab hoc gradu ut gloriae laudisque studio ad optima conari velint.

Hey Poindexter, You Don’t Know Sh*t!

Petrarch, On His Own Ignorance (32):

“I don’t say these things in an effort to avoid their judgment, but so that they who are ignorant may feel some shame (if they are capable of it) in making their judgment. For, on this subject, I do not just embrace the opinion of friendly jealousy, but even the judgment of hostile hatred, and in sum, if someone pronounces that I am ignorant, I agree with him! When I myself think over how many things are lacking to me, toward which my mind, eager for knowledge, exerts itself, I sadly and silently recognize my own ignorance. But in the meantime, while the end of my present exile is near, at which point this imperfection (from whence our knowledge derives) will be terminated, I am consoled by the thought of our shared nature. I think that it happens to all good and modest minds, that they learn about themselves and derive consolation therefrom. For those who get hold of great knowledge (I am speaking according to the standards of human learning), it is always small when considered in itself, but it becomes great in light of the narrow circumstances from which it is derived, and certainly looks great when compared to others. Otherwise, I ask you, how small and insignificant is the knowledge granted to one mind? Nay, how much like nothing is the knowledge of any one person, whoever they be, when it is compared not just to the knowledge of God, but to one’s own fund of ignorance?”

Petrarch-engraving

Non hec dico, ut declinem forum, sed ut pudeat, siquis est pudor, iudicasse qui nesciunt. Ego etenim de hac re non modo sententiam amicabilis amplector invidie, sed hostilis odii, et ad summam, quisquis ignarum me pronuntiat, mecum sentit. Nam et ego ipse recogitans quam multa michi desint ad id quo sciendi avida mens suspirat, ignorantiam meam dolens ac tacitus recognosco. Sed me interim, dum presentis exilii finis adest, quo nostra hec imperfectio terminetur, qua ex parte nunc scimus, nature communis extimatione consolor. Idque omnibus bonis ac modestis ingeniis evenire arbitror, ut agnoscant se pariter ac solentur; his etiam quibus ingens obtigit scientia — secundum humane scientie morem loquor — que in se semper exigua, pro angustiis quibus excipitur, et collata aliis ingens fit. Alioquin quantulum, queso, est, quantumcunque est, quod nosse uni ingenio datum est? Imo quam nichil est scire hominis, quisquis sit, si non dicam scientie Dei, sed sui ipsius ignorantie comparetur?

Two Epigrams From Grumpy Grammarians

11.140 Loukillios

“To those chattering song-fighters at the feast,
The greased-up grammarians of Aristarchus,
Men who don’t like to joke or drink but lie there
Playing childish games with Nestor and Priam,
Don’t leave me—in their words—to be “booty and spoil”.
Today I am not eating “Goddess, sing the rage…”

Τούτοις τοῖς παρὰ δεῖπνον ἀοιδομάχοις λογολέσχαις,
τοῖς ἀπ’ ᾿Αριστάρχου γραμματολικριφίσιν,
οἷς οὐ σκῶμμα λέγειν, οὐ πεῖν φίλον, ἀλλ’ ἀνάκεινται
νηπυτιευόμενοι Νέστορι καὶ Πριάμῳ,
μή με βάλῃς κατὰ λέξιν „ἕλωρ καὶ κύρμα γενέσθαι”·
σήμερον οὐ δειπνῶ „μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεά.”

11.378 Palladas

“I can’t endure a wife and grammar,
Impoverishing grammar, and a wife unjust.
The suffering from both is death and fate.
I have now just barely fled from grammar,
But I cannot retreat from this man-fighting wife:
Our contract and Roman custom forbid it!”

Οὐ δύναμαι γαμετῆς καὶ γραμματικῆς ἀνέχεσθαι,
γραμματικῆς ἀπόρου καὶ γαμετῆς ἀδίκου.
ἀμφοτέρων τὰ πάθη θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα τέτυκται.
τὴν οὖν γραμματικὴν νῦν μόλις ἐξέφυγον,
οὐ δύναμαι δ’ ἀλόχου τῆς ἀνδρομάχης ἀναχωρεῖν·
εἴργει γὰρ χάρτης καὶ νόμος Αὐσόνιος.

romanschool

Maybe Just Sparknotes for Aristotle?

F.R. Leavis, The ‘Great Books’ and a Liberal Education:

Perhaps the case today is not as utterly hopeless—not quite as hopeless—as the Great Books scheme would make it appear, even though such a scheme, fervently advocated with wide and powerful support, suggests that all notion of what a living tradition is like has been lost. But I will, at any rate for the moment, put aside talk about “tradition” (that tricky concept which needs such delicate and positive handling) and make some points that must have occurred to anyone who, as a “teacher,” is concerned with liberal education at a place where, in a modern community, liberal education is at least a recognized and institutional concern: a university. Thinking of correctives to academic tendencies, one tells oneself that there will be this mark of a student’s having spent his time not without profit: he will leave the university knowing to much better effect that there are renowned works he needn’t take as seriously as convention affirms, and others that, though they will repay the right reader’s study, are not for him. For an instance of the first class, there is Aristotle’s Poetics, a treatise prescribed among the Great Books. There may be some point in a student’s looking up the Poetics when he is going into Tragedy under the guidance of Gilbert Murray, Jane Harrison, Cornford, and the other anthropologizing Hellenists. But the man who leaves the university able to suppose that in the Poetics he has studied an illuminating treatise on the foundations of literary criticism has not used his time to real educational profit—even if he has won high academic distinction. It is characteristic of the academic conventionality of the Great Books ethos to endorse the conventional academic standing of the Poetics.

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Edouard Manet, The Reader

 

“Don’t Know Grammar, Don’t Give a F**k”

Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks (Preface):

On the verge of writing the wars of kings with enemy nations, of martyrs with pagans, of the churches with heretics, I would first like to bring forth a display of my faith, so that one who reads me will not doubt that I am a Catholic. That plan has pleased me because of those, who despair of the approaching end of the world, so that the chief points of preceding times collected through chronicles and histories, and how many years there have been since the beginning of the world, may be clearly explained. But first I entreat the pardon of my readers, if I have run off the rails of grammatical art in my letters or my syllables, because I was not really educated with that skill, instead pursuing only that I may retain what is preached in the church without any recoiling or hesitation of my heart, because I know that one who is corrupted by sings is nevertheless able to obtain God’s pardon through a pure credulity.

Scribturus bella regum cum gentibus adversis, martyrum cum paganis, eclesiarum cum hereticis, prius fidem meam proferre cupio, ut qui legerit me non dubitet esse catholicum. Illud etiam placuit propter eos, qui adpropinquantem finem mundi disperant, ut, collectam per chronicas vel historias anteriorum summa, explanetur aperte, quanti ab exordio mundi sint anni. Sed prius veniam legentibus praecor, si aut in litteris aut in syllabis grammaticam artem excessero, de qua adpaene non sum inbutus; illud tantum studens, ut quod in eclesia credi praedicatur sine aliquo fugo aut cordis haesitatione reteneam, quia scio peccatis obnoxium per credulitatem puram obtinere posse veniam apud Deum.

Butcherly Feare in Making Latines

John Brinsley, Ludus Literarius (Preface)

There is a way (saith Mr. Askame) touched in the first booke of Cicero de Oratore,which wisely brought into Schooles, truly taught, & constantly vsed would not onely take wholly away that butcherly feare in making Latines, but would also with ease and pleasure, and in short time as I know by good experience, worke a true choise and placing of words, a right ordering of sentences, an easie vnderstanding of the tongues, a readinesseto speake, a facilitie to write, a true iudgement both of his owne, and other mens doings, what tongue so euer he doth vse.

This way, as he sheweth, is by causing the Schollar first to vnderstand the matter which he learneth: secondly, to construe truely: thirdly, to parse exactly: fourthly, to translate into English plainely: fiftly, to translate out of the English into the Latine of the Author againe: and so after to compare with the  Author how neere he came vnto it. Finally, by much translating both wayes, chiefely out of the English into Latine, as hee setteth downe in the beginning of his second booke; and hereby hee saw those strange experiments of the increase of learning, which hee reporteth of Mr. Iohn Whitney, and others.

Now, whereas these things are very hard to bee performed in the common schooles; especially for lacke of time to trie and compare euery schollars translation, and euer giuing them new peeces to translate, and those such as are meete for euery forme; by the meanes of these translations of our first schoole Authors, all these things may bee performed in euery Author and forme, most certainely and constantly, and with much ease and delight both to Maister and Schollars; as I trust will be found.

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