Seneca, Moral Epistles 88.1-2
“You are longing to know how I feel about the liberal arts. Well, I respect nothing–I include nothing among the good disciplines–that aims at making money. These arts are for profit–they’re useful to the point that they exercise the wit but do not occupy it forever. They should be studied only when it is impossible to attend to anything more important. These studies are basic, not our true work.
You see why the liberal arts have their name: they are worthy of a free person. But there is only one true liberal discipline, the study that makes you free. This is the study of wisdom, it is sublime, bold, and filled with a greatness of spirit. The other disciplines are minor and childish. You can’t believe that there’s anything good in those disciplines whose teachers you can see are of the most reprehensible and criminal kind? We should not be learning these things, but to have finished them. Some people have decided when it comes to the liberal arts that they make someone good–yet those very people neither demonstrate nor seek real knowledge of this material.”
De liberalibus studiis quid sentiam, scire desideras: nullum suspicio, nullum in bonis numero, quod ad aes exit. Meritoria artificia sunt, hactenus utilia, si praeparant ingenium, non detinent. Tamdiu enim istis inmorandum est, quamdiu nihil animus agere maius potest; rudimenta sunt nostra, non opera. Quare liberalia studia dicta sint, vides; quia homine libero digna sunt. Ceterum unum studium vere liberale est, quod liberum facit. Hoc est sapientiae, sublime, forte, magnanimum. Cetera pusilla et puerilia sunt; an tu quicquam in istis esse credis boni, quorum professores turpissimos omnium ac flagitiosissimos cernis? Non discere debemus ista, sed didicisse. Quidam illud de liberalibus studiis quaerendum iudicaverunt, an virum bonum facerent; ne promittunt quidem nec huius rei scientiam adfectant.