The Dangers of Anarchy and Loving Humanity

Pythagoras, fr. b (58D.4) 4.1.49 (Frag. 35 Wehrli)

“Generally, they believed that it was necessary to posit that there is no greater evil than anarchy, since a human being cannot naturally save themselves when no one is watching over them. This is what they used to say then about those who rule and those who are ruled.

They used to claim that those who rule must not only have knowledge but also a love of humanity and that those who are ruled must not only obey but they should love their rulers. And they also believed that people at every age should practice: children practice reading and writing and other kinds of knowledge; adolescents learn the customs and laws of the state; adults focus on the actions and politics of their communities.

They believed that the aged should spend their time exhorting people, framing rules and giving advice with all of the knowledge they have gained, not to act foolishly like babies, nor adolescents like children, nor adults like adolescents, nor should the elderly act like crazy people.”

καθόλου δὲ ᾤοντο δεῖν ὑπολαμβάνειν μηδὲν εἶναι μεῖζον κακὸν ἀναρχίας· οὐ γὰρ πεφυκέναι τὸν ἄνθρωπον διασῴζεσθαι μηδενὸς ἐπιστατοῦντος. περὶ δὲ ἀρχόντων καὶ ἀρχομένων οὕτως ἐφρόνουν, τοὺς μὲν γὰρ ἄρχοντας ἔφασκον οὐ μόνον ἐπιστήμονας ἀλλὰ καὶ φιλανθρώπους δεῖν εἶναι, καὶ τοὺς ἀρχομένους οὐ μόνον πειθηνίους ἀλλὰ καὶ φιλάρχοντας. ἐπιμελητέον δὲ πάσης ἡλικίας ἡγοῦντο, καὶ τοὺς μὲν παῖδας ἐν γράμμασι καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις μαθήμασιν ἀσκεῖσθαι, τοὺς δὲ νεανίσκους τοῖς τῆς πόλεως ἔθεσί τε καὶ νόμοις γυμνάζεσθαι, τοὺς δὲ ἄνδρας ταῖς πράξεσί τε καὶ δημοσίαις λειτουργίαις προσέχειν. τοὺς δὲ πρεσβύτας ἐνθυμήσεσι καὶ κριτηρίοις καὶ συμβουλίαις δεῖν ἐναναστρέφεσθαι μετὰ πάσης ἐπιστήμης ὑπελάμβανον, ὅπως μήτε οἱ παῖδες νηπιάζοιεν, μήτε οἱ νεανίσκοι παιδαριεύοιντο, μήτε οἱ ἅνδρες νεανιεύοιντο, μήτε οἱ γέροντες παραφρονοῖεν.

Ashlar of Pythagoras in Ulm Minster by Jörg Syrlin the Elder

Learning, Recollection, and Babies Laughing in their Sleep

Plutarch, Moralia: other Fragments 217

“A summary of different arguments by Plutarch of Charoneia showing that learning is recollection

    1. Do we think one thing because of another thing? Not unless it was known beforehand. This is a Platonic argument.
    2. Do we supplement ideas that are missing things? This is also Platonic
    3. Are children better at learning because they are nearer to the period before life when memory is preserved? This is an obvious approach.
    4. Are different people more capable for different kinds of learning?
    5. Have many people taught themselves entire art forms?
    6. Do babies laugh while they’re sleeping when they don’t while they are awake? Indeed, many speak when asleep even though they have not yet otherwise.
    7. Are some people frightened of silly things even though they are brave, like someone afraid of a weasel, or a rooster for no clear reason?
    8. Is discovery not attainable otherwise? For no one would seek what we know nor for what we never knew previously and we couldn’t find what we do not know.
    9. Is truth conversant with reality once forgetfulness has been removed? An argument based on diction.
    10. Is Memory the mother of the Muses, since unclear memory is the reason for our examinations.”

Ἐπιχειρημάτων διαφόρων συναγωγὴ δεικνύντων ἀναμνήσεις εἶναι τὰς μαθήσεις ἐκ τῶν τοῦ Χαιρωνέως Πλουτάρχου·

(a) Εἰ ἀφ᾿ ἑτέρου ἕτερον ἐννοοῦμεν. οὐκ ἂν εἰ μὴ προέγνωστο. τὸ ἐπιχείρημα Πλατωνικόν.

(b) Εἰ προστίθεμεν τὸ ἐλλεῖπον τοῖς αἰσθητοῖς· καὶ αὐτὸ Πλατωνικόν.

(c) Εἰ παῖδες εὐμαθέστεροι, ὡς ἐγγίους τῆς προβιοτῆς, ἐν  ἡ μνήμη ἐσῴζετο. ἐπιπόλαιος ὁ λόγος.

(d) Εἰ ἄλλοι πρὸς ἄλλο μάθημα ἐπιτηδειότεροι.

(e) Εἰ πολλοὶ αὐτοδίδακτοι ὅλων τεχνῶν.

(f) Εἰ πολλὰ παιδία ὑπνώττοντα γελᾷ, ὕπαρ δ᾿ οὔπω· πολλὰ δὲ καὶ ὄναρ2 ἐφθέγξατο, ἄλλως οὔπω φθεγγόμενα.

(g) Εἰ ἔνιοι καὶ ἀνδρεῖοι ὄντες ὅμως φοβοῦνται φαῦλ᾿ ἄττα, οἷον γαλῆν ἢ ἀλεκτρυόνα, ἀπ᾿ οὐδεμιᾶς φανερᾶς αἰτίας.

(h) Εἰ μὴ ἔστιν ἄλλως εὑρίσκειν. οὔτε γὰρ ἃ ἴσμεν ζητήσειεν ἄν τις, οὔτε ἃ μηδαμῶς ἴσμεν πρότερον, ἀλλ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἂν εὕροιμεν ἃ μὴ ἴσμεν.

(i) Εἰ ἡ ἀλήθεια κατ᾿ ἀφαίρεσιν τῆς λήθης ἔντευξις τοῦ ὄντος ἐστί. λογικὴ ἡ ἐπιχείρησις.

(j) Εἰ ἡ μήτηρ τῶν Μουσῶν Μνημοσύνη, ὡς ἡ ἀδιάρθρωτος μνήμη τῶν ζητήσεων αἰτία.

New Mexico Recollections by Marsden Hartley (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:New_Mexico_Recollections_by_Marsden_Hartley,_Columbus_Museum_of_Art.jpg)

“The Last Sign of Nobility”: How to Flatter Your Favorite Classicists

Sidonius, Letters 7.2

“Most learned man, I believe that I might commit a sin against learning if I procrastinate at all in offering you praise for fending off the end of all literature. When it has already been buried, you are celebrated as its reviver, its agent, and its guardian. Throughout Gaul in this tempest of wars, Latin works have gained safe harbor because you are their teacher even as Latin arms have endured disaster.

For this reason our peers and posterity should unanimously and with enthusiasm claim you as a second Demosthenes, a second Cicero, here with statues—if it is allowed—and there with portraits because your teaching has so shaped them and trained them that, even though they remain surrounded by an unconquerable and still foreign people, they safeguard the signs of their ancient birthright. For as the signs of dignity—the ways in which every noble person used to be separated from the base—become more distant the only remaining sign of nobility after this will be a literary education.

But the advantages from your teaching demand thanks from me beyond others because I am trying to compose something which people in the future might read. For a crowd of competent readers will always come from your school and your lectures. Farewell.”

  1. Credidi me, vir peritissime, nefas in studia committere, si distulissem prosequi laudibus quod aboleri tu litteras distulisti, quarum quodammodo iam sepultarum suscitator fautor assertor concelebraris, teque per Gallias uno magistro sub hac tempestate bellorum Latina tenuerunt ora portum, cum pertulerint arma naufragium. 2. debent igitur vel aequaevi vel posteri nostri universatim ferventibus votis alterum te ut Demosthenen, alterum ut Tullium nunc statuis, si liceat, consecrare, nunc imaginibus, qui te docente formati institutique iam sinu in medio sic gentis invictae, quod tamen alienae, natalium1vetustorum signa retinebunt: nam iam remotis gradibus dignitatum, per quas solebat ultimo a quoque summus quisque discerni, solum erit posthac nobilitatis indicium litteras nosse. 3. nos vero ceteros supra doctrinae tuae beneficia constringunt, quibus aliquid scribere assuetis quodque venturi legere possint elaborantibus saltim de tua schola seu magisterio competens lectorum turba proveniet. vale.
High praise, coming from a Saint

“Learn As Long As You Are Ignorant”: Seneca on What He Has to Teach

Seneca, Moral Epistles 76.3-5

“People of every age enter this classroom. “Do we grow old only to follow the young?” When I go into the theater as an old man and I am drawn to the racetrack and no fight is finished without me, shall I be embarrassed to go to a philosopher? You must learn as long as you are ignorant—if we may trust the proverb. And nothing is more fit to the present than this: as long as you live you must learn how to live. Nevertheless, there is still something which I teach there. You ask, what may I teach? That an old man must learn too.

But the human race still shames me every time I enter the school. Near to that theater of the Neapolitans, I have to pass that house of Metronax. There, the place is packed too as with a burning desire they judge who is the best flute player. The Greek horn and a herald bring a crowd. But in the place where we seek what a good man is, where how to be a good man may be learned, the smallest audience sits and they seem to most people to be up to no good in their pursuit. They are called useless and lazy. May such derision touch me. For the insults of the ignorant should be heard with a gentle mind. Contempt itself must be held in contempt as we journey toward better things.”

Omnis aetatis homines haec schola admittit. “In hoc senescamus, ut iuvenes sequamur?” In theatrum senex ibo et in circum deferar et nullum par sine me depugnabit ad philosophum ire erubescam?

Tamdiu discendum est, quamdiu nescias; si proverbio credimus, quamdiu vivas. Nec ulli hoc rei magis convenit quam huic: tamdiu discendum est, quemadmodum vivas, quamdiu vivas. Ego tamen illic aliquid et doceo. Quaeris, quid doceam? Etiam seni esse discendum. Pudet autem me generis humani, quotiens scholam intravi. Praeter ipsum theatrum Neapolitanorum, ut scis, transeundum est Metronactis petenti domum. Illud quidem fartum est et ingenti studio, quis sit pythaules bonus, iudicatur; habet tubicen quoque Graecus et praeco concursum. At in illo loco, in quo vir bonus quaeritur, in quo vir bonus discitur, paucissimi sedent, et hi plerisque videntur nihil boni negotii habere quod agant; inepti et inertes vocantur. Mihi contingat iste derisus; aequo animo audienda sunt inperitorum convicia et ad honesta vadenti contemnendus est ipse contemptus.

 

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Virtue and the Arts: Some Aristotle to Start Your Day

Some Aristotle for this morning. I don’t think I actually believe the third point–because I suspect that insisting that human character is constant and consistent is actually (1) wrong and (2) impacts mental health negatively. But I like the beginning and the emphasis on that Aristotelian notion that doing something makes you something...

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 2.2-4

“Or is this also true in the arts? For spelling a word accidentally or with someone else guiding you is possible. Then, one will be a scholar if he spells something the way a scholar does, by which I mean according to the scholarly art itself. In addition, there is no real similarity between the arts and virtue. For the products of art are good in themselves—it suffices if they develop while having their own quality.

But acts of virtue don’t have their own intrinsic quality and are performed wisely or justly, but if the person who does them acts in a certain way. First, he must understand what he does. Second, he must choose to do it and for its own nature. And, third, he must act from a fixed and constant character. None of these conditions are necessary for the other arts apart from understanding the act. But knowledge is of little or no importance for the virtues while the other conditions are not minor but rather everything, if truly [virtue] emerges from repeatedly doing just and wise things.”

ἢ οὐδ᾿ ἐπὶ τῶν τεχνῶν οὕτως ἔχει; ἐνδέχεται γὰρ γραμματικόν τι ποιῆσαι καὶ ἀπὸ τύχης καὶ ἄλλου ὑποθεμένου· τότε οὖν ἔσται γραμματικός, ἐὰν καὶ γραμματικόν τι ποιήσῃ καὶ γραμματικῶς, τοῦτο δ᾿ ἐστὶ [τὸ] κατὰ τὴν ἐν αὑτῷ γραμματικήν. ἔτι οὐδ᾿ ὅμοιόν ἐστιν ἐπὶ τῶν τεχνῶν καὶ τῶν ἀρετῶν· τὰ μὲν γὰρ ὑπὸ τῶν τεχνῶν γινόμενα τὸ εὖ ἔχει ἐν αὑτοῖς, ἀρκεῖ οὖν αὐτά πως ἔχοντα γενέσθαι· τὰ δὲ κατὰ τὰς ἀρετὰς γινόμενα οὐκ ἐὰν αὐτά πως ἔχῃ, δικαίως ἢ σωφρόνως πράττεται, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐὰν ὁ πράττων πως ἔχων πράττῃ, πρῶτον μὲν ἐὰν εἰδώς, ἔπειτ᾿ ἐὰν προαιρούμενος, καὶ προαιρούμενος δι᾿ αὐτά, τὸ δὲ τρίτον καὶ ἐὰν βεβαίως καὶ ἀμετακινήτως ἔχων πράττῃ. ταῦτα δὲ πρὸς μὲν τὸ τὰς ἄλλας τέχνας ἔχειν οὐ συναριθμεῖται, πλὴν αὐτὸ τὸ εἰδέναι· πρὸς δὲ τὸ τὰς ἀρετὰς τὸ μὲν εἰδέναι μικρὸν ἢ οὐδὲν ἰσχύει, τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα οὐ μικρὸν ἀλλὰ τὸ πᾶν δύναται, εἴπερ ἐκ τοῦ πολλάκις πράττειν τὰ δίκαια καὶ σώφρονα περιγίνεται.

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Brtitish Library, Constitution of the Athenians

Growing Old In The Classroom

Some passages for the end of another strange semester

Solon, fr. 18

“I grow old, always learning many things.”

γηράσκω δ’ αἰεὶ πολλὰ διδασκόμενος·

Kim Stanley Robinson The Years of Rice and Salt (2003: 758)

“Over time, Bao came to understand that teaching too was a kind of reincarnation, in that years passed and students came and went, new young people all the time, but always the same age, taking the same class; the class under the oak trees, reincarnated. He began to enjoy that aspect of it. He would start the first class by saying, “Look, here we are again.” They never knew what to make of it; same response, every time.

He learned, among other things, that teaching was the most rigorous form of learning. He learned to learn more from his students than they did from him; like so many other things, it was the reverse from what it seemed to be, and colleges existed to bring together groups of young people to teach some chosen few of their elders the things that they knew about life, that the old teachers had been in danger of forgetting.”

Seneca, Moral Epistles 76.3-5

“People of every age enter this classroom. “Do we grow old only to follow the young?” When I go into the theater as an old man and I am drawn to the racetrack and no fight is finished without me, shall I be embarrassed to go to a philosopher?

You must learn as long as you are ignorant—if we may trust the proverb, as long as you live. And nothing is more fit to the present than this: as long as you live you must learn how to live. Nevertheless, there is still something which I teach there. You ask, what may I teach? That an old man must learn too.”

Omnis aetatis homines haec schola admittit. “In hoc senescamus, ut iuvenes sequamur?” In theatrum senex ibo et in circum deferar et nullum par sine me depugnabit ad philosophum ire erubescam?

Tamdiu discendum est, quamdiu nescias; si proverbio credimus, quamdiu vivas. Nec ulli hoc rei magis convenit quam huic: tamdiu discendum est, quemadmodum vivas, quamdiu vivas. Ego tamen illic aliquid et doceo. Quaeris, quid doceam? Etiam seni esse discendum.

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“Give the Child a Book and Order Them to Read”

Polybius, Histories 10.47 7-12

“There are many other examples which provide proof for this, but the clearest one of all is that from reading. In this case, if someone sets a person who is illiterate and unaccustomed to reading but not a fool and then place next to him a child who can read, give the child a book and order them to read what is written, it is clear that the man would not be able to believe that while reading one must first understand the image of each letter, then the value of its sound, and then the possible combinations with other letters, all things that require a great deal of time.

When he sees the child reading without pausing seven or five lines, he will not easily be able to believe that the child has not read the book before. He will straight out deny it if the reader observes the rhythm, the pauses, the rough breathings and the smooth breathings too. We should not bar for ourselves, then, anything which is useful because it appears to be difficult at first. No, we must use the force of habit, the means by which humans achieve all good things and even more so when it concerns the matters upon which our very safety depends.”

τοῦ δὲ τοιούτου λόγου παραδείγματα μὲν πολλὰ καὶ ἕτερα πρὸς πίστιν, ἐναργέστατον δὲ τὸ γινόμενον ἐπὶ τῆς ἀναγνώσεως. ἐπὶ γὰρ ἐκείνης, εἴ τις παραστησάμενος ἄνθρωπον ἄπειρον μὲν καὶ ἀσυνήθη γραμματικῆς, τἄλλα δ᾿ ἀγχίνουν, κἄπειτα παιδάριον ἕξιν ἔχον παραστήσας καὶ δοὺς βυβλίον κελεύοι λέγειν τὰ γεγραμμένα, δῆλον ὡς οὐκ ἂν δύναιτο πιστεῦσαι διότι <δεῖ> πρῶτον ἐπὶ τὰς ὄψεις τὰς ἑνὸς ἑκάστου τῶν γραμμάτων ἐπιστῆσαι τὸν ἀναγινώσκοντα, δεύτερον ἐπὶ τὰς δυνάμεις, τρίτον ἐπὶ τὰς πρὸς ἄλληλα συμπλοκάς, ὧν ἕκαστον ποσοῦ χρόνου τινὸς δεῖται.διόπερ ὅταν ἀνεπιστάτως θεωρῇ τὸ παιδάριον ὑπὸ τὴν ἀναπνοὴν ἑπτὰ καὶ πέντε στίχους συνεῖρον, οὐκ ἂν εὐχερῶς δύναιτο πιστεῦσαι διότι πρότερον οὗτος οὐκ ἀνέγνωκε τὸ βυβλίον· εἰ δὲ καὶ τὴν ὑπόκρισιν καὶ τὰς διαιρέσεις, ἔτι δὲ δασύτητας καὶ ψιλότητας δύναιτο συσσῴζειν, οὐδὲ τελέως. διόπερ οὐκ ἀποστατέον οὐδενὸς τῶν χρησίμων διὰ τὰς προφαινομένας δυσχερείας, προσακτέον δὲ τὴν ἕξιν, ᾗ πάντα τὰ καλὰ γίνεται θηρατὰ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις, ἄλλως τε καὶ περὶ τῶν τοιούτων, ἐν οἷς πολλάκις κεῖται τὸ συνέχον τῆς σωτηρίας.

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Knowledge, Cooperation, and the Common Good

Manilius, Astronomica 67-84

“Humanity waited, thunderstruck by the new light in the sky,
First grieving as it disappeared, then overjoyed at its return.
The human race was incapable of understanding the reasons
Why the sun rose so frequently once it sent the stars
In flight, why the length of days and nights was uncertain
And why the shadows changed too as the sun moved farther away.

Stubborn obsession had not yet taught humankind knowledge and skill
And the land was resting open at the hands of untrained farmers.
At that time gold was resting in untouched mountains
And the untroubled sea hid strange worlds—
For the human race did not dare to risk life
In the waves or wind—people believed that they did not know enough.

But the passage of long days sharpened mortal thought
And hard work produced invention for the miserable
Just as each person’s luck compelled him to turn to himself to make life better.
Then, they competed with each other once their interests were divided
And whatever wisdom practice found through testing,
They happily shared for the common good.”

et stupefacta novo pendebat lumine mundi,
tum velut amisso maerens, tum laeta renato,
surgentem neque enim totiens Titana fugatis
sideribus, variosque dies incertaque noctis
tempora nec similis umbras, iam sole regresso
iam propiore, suis poterat discernere causis.
necdum etiam doctas sollertia fecerat artes,
terraque sub rudibus cessabat vasta colonis;
tumque in desertis habitabat montibus aurum,
immotusque novos pontus subduxerat orbes,
nec vitam pelago nec ventis credere vota
audebant; se quisque satis novisse putabant.
sed cum longa dies acuit mortalia corda
et labor ingenium miseris dedit et sua quemque
advigilare sibi iussit fortuna premendo,
seducta in varias certarunt pectora curas
et, quodcumque sagax temptando repperit usus,
in commune bonum commentum laeta dederunt.

17th-century chart of the universe, with zodiac signs and the earth at the center
From Wikipedia. 17th-century depiction in Andreas Cellarius‘s Harmonia Macrocosmica.

A Friendly Philosopher is Useless

Plutarch, Fr. 203, recorded in Themistios’ On the Soul (From Stobaeus, iii.13. 68)

“Others will decide whether Diogenes spoke rightly about Plato “What good is a man who has practiced philosophy for a long time and pissed off no one? Perhaps it is right that the philosopher’s speech has a sweetness that wounds like honey.”

Θεμιστίου περὶ ψυχῆς·

Εἰ μὲν οὖν ὀρθῶς ἐπὶ Πλάτωνος εἶπε Διογένης, “τί δαὶ ὄφελος ἡμῖν ἀνδρὸς ὃς πολὺν ἤδη χρόνον φιλοσοφῶν οὐδένα λελύπηκεν;” ἕτεροι κρινοῦσιν. ἴσως γὰρ ὡς τὸ μέλι δεῖ καὶ τὸν λόγον τοῦ φιλοσόφου τὸ γλυκὺ δηκτικὸν ἔχειν τῶν ἡλκωμένων.

Diogenes Laertius, 10.8

“[Epicurus] used to call Nausiphanes an illiterate jellyfish, a cheat and a whore. He used to refer to Plato’s followers as the Dionysus-flatterers; he called Aristotle a waste who, after he spent his interitance, fought as a mercenary and sold drugs. He maligned Protagoras as a bellboy, and called Protagoras Democritus’ secretary and a teacher from the sticks. He called Heraclitus mudman, Democritus  Lerocritus [nonsense lord].

Antidorus he called Sannidôros [servile-gifter]. He named the Cynics “Greece’s enemies”; he called the dialecticians Destructionists and, according to him, Pyrrho was unlearned and unteachable.”

πλεύμονά τε αὐτὸν ἐκάλει καὶ ἀγράμματον καὶ ἀπατεῶνα καὶ πόρνην: τούς τε περὶ Πλάτωνα Διονυσοκόλακας καὶ αὐτὸν Πλάτωνα χρυσοῦν, καὶ Ἀριστοτέλη ἄσωτον, <ὃν> καταφαγόντα τὴν πατρῴαν οὐσίαν στρατεύεσθαι καὶ φαρμακοπωλεῖν: φορμοφόρον τε Πρωταγόραν καὶ γραφέα Δημοκρίτου καὶ ἐν κώμαις γράμματα διδάσκειν: Ἡράκλειτόν τε κυκητὴν καὶ Δημόκριτον Ληρόκριτον καὶ Ἀντίδωρον Σαννίδωρον: τούς τε Κυνικοὺς ἐχθροὺς τῆς Ἑλλάδος: καὶ τοὺς διαλεκτικοὺς πολυφθόρους, Πύρρωνα δ᾽ ἀμαθῆ καὶ ἀπαίδευτον.

Cicero, Letter Fragments. Nepos to Cicero IIa

Nepos Cornelius also writes to the same Cicero thus: it is so far away from me thinking that philosophy is a teacher of life and the guardian of a happy life, that I do not believe that anyone needs teachers of living more than the many men who are dedicated to philosophical debate. I certainly see that a great number of those who rush into speeches about restraint and discipline in the classroom live amidst the desire for every kind of vice.”

Nepos quoque Cornelius ad eundem Ciceronem ita scribit: tantum abest ut ego magistram putem esse vitae philosophiam beataeque vitae perfectricem ut nullis magis existimem opus esse magistros vivendi quam plerisque qui in ea disputanda versantur. video enim magnam partem eorum qui in schola de pudore <et> continentia praecipiant argutissime eosdem in omnium libidinum cupiditatibus vivere. (Lactant. Div. inst. 3.5.10)

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On Timon, D. L. 9.12

“Antigonos says that Timon was fond of drinking; and, whenever he had free time from philosophizing, he wrote poems”

Ἦν δέ, φησὶν ὁ Ἀντίγονος, καὶ φιλοπότης καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν φιλοσόφων εἰ σχολάζοι ποιήματα συνέγραφε

Seneca, Moral Epistle 3.3

“For this is most shameful (and often brought up against us as a reproach), to deal in the words, and not the actual work, of philosophy.”

hoc enim turpissimum est, quod nobis obici solet, verba nos philosophiae, non opera tractare.

Forget Wealth, I Know About Foxes

Aelian, Animalia Epilogue

“However much my work, thought, and toil has added to learning and as much as the progressive consensus in those matters has sketched out and uncovered while men of repute and philosophers compete with each other in these fields, I have now articulated as much as I was able. I did not leave out anything which I knew because I was lazy, as if I looked down on or dishonored some wild beast without reason or speech.

No, here too that lust for knowledge which lives deep within me and is native there has set me afire. I am not ignorant of the fact that some of those who look keenly for money and are bewitched by honors, and power, and everything which gains a reputation may attack me if I spent my free time on these projects when I could have been primping myself and frequenting courtyards and courting wealth.

Instead, I have concerned myself with foxes and lizards and bugs and snakes and lions, with what a leopard does, how affectionate storks are to their young, how the nightingale singles sweetly, how wise an elephant is, the shapes of fishes, the migrations of cranes, the natures of serpents and the rest of the things which this carefully written composition contains and preserves.

It is not at all dear to me to be numbered among these wealthy men and to be compared to them. But if, instead, I would try and desire to join that crowd among whom wise poets and men clever at seeking out and examining the secrets of nature and the writers who approach the most extensive experience think it right to join, it is clear that I am a far better judge of the difference than these other people are. Or I would prefer to excel in a single school of knowledge than to gain the praised riches and possessions of your most wealthy people. Well, that’s enough about these things for now.”

Ὅσα μὲν οὖν σπουδή τε ἐμὴ καὶ φροντὶς καὶ πόνος καὶ ἐς τὸ πλέον μαθεῖν καὶ ἐν τοῖσδε ἡ γνώμη προχωροῦσα ἀνίχνευσέ τε καὶ ἀνεῦρε, δοκίμων τε ἀνδρῶν καὶ φιλοσόφων ἀγώνισμα θεμένων τὴν ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῖς ἐμπειρίαν, καὶ δὴ λέλεκταί μοι, ὡς οἷόν τε ἦν εἰπεῖν, μὴ παραλείποντι ἅπερ ἔγνων μηδὲ βλακεύοντι, ὡς ἀλόγου τε καὶ ἀφώνου ἀγέλης ὑπεριδόντι καὶ ἀτιμάσαντι, ἀλλὰ κἀνταῦθα ἔρως με σοφίας ὁ σύνοικός τε καὶ ὁ συμφυὴς ἐξέκαυσεν. οὐκ ἀγνοῶ δὲ ὅτι ἄρα καὶ τῶν ἐς χρήματα ὁρώντων ὀξὺ καὶ τεθηγμένων ἐς τιμάς τε καὶ δυνάμεις τινὲς καὶ πᾶν τὸ φιλόδοξον δι᾿ αἰτίας ἕξουσιν, εἰ τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ σχολὴν κατεθέμην ἐς ταῦτα, ἐξὸν καὶ ὠφρυῶσθαι καὶ ἐν ταῖς αὐλαῖς ἐξετάζεσθαι καὶ ἐπὶ μέγα προήκειν πλούτου. ἐγὼ δὲ ὑπέρ τε ἀλωπέκων καὶ σαυρῶν καὶ κανθάρων καὶ ὄφεων καὶ λεόντων καὶ τί δρᾷ πάρδαλις καὶ ὅπως πελαργὸς φιλόστοργον καὶ ὅτι ἀηδὼν εὔστομον καὶ πῶς φιλόσοφον ἐλέφας καὶ εἴδη ἰχθύων καὶ γεράνων ἀποδημίας καὶ δρακόντων φύσεις καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ὅσα ἥδε ἡ συγγραφὴ πεπονημένως ἔχει καὶ φυλάττει, περιέρχομαι· ἀλλὰ οὔ μοι φίλον σὺν τοῖσδε τοῖς πλουσίοις ἀρίθμεῖσθαι καὶ πρὸς ἐκείνους ἐζετάζεσθαι, εἰ δὲ ὧν καὶ ποιηταὶ σοφοὶ καὶ ἄνδρες φύσεως ἀπόρρητα ἰδεῖν τε ἅμα καὶ κατασκέψασθαι δεινοὶ καὶ συγγραφεῖς τῆς πείρας ἐς τὸ μήκιστον προελθόντες ἑαυτοὺς ἠξίωσαν, τούτων τοι καὶ ἐμαυτὸν ἁμωσγέπως ἕνα πειρῶμαι ἀριθμεῖν καὶ ἐθέλω, δῆλον ὡς ἀμείνων ἐμαυτῷ σύμβουλός εἰμι τῆς ἐξ ἐκείνων κρίσεως. βουλοίμην γὰρ ἂν μάθημα ἓν γοῦν πεπαιδευμένον περιγενέσθαι μοι ἢ τὰ ᾀδόμενα τῶν πάνυ πλουσίων χρήματά τε ἅμα καὶ κτήματα. καὶ ὑπὲρ μὲν τούτων ἱκανὰ νῦν.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, lat. 6838B, Folio 10v (from The Medieval Bestiary)