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A Poet's Journal: February 4th, 2014

February 4th, 2014

It is in our nature to fashion understanding after intellect; from the first breath of consciousness it has been said that man is the thinking animal and whether we agree or not, the tradition with which our thoughts move is to place one object up against another, or one thought or memory up against another, and proceed through reasoning or logic to come up with a strategy that will invariably prove or not prove that one is better or worse than the other.  We place upon the scale of importance efficiency and fact, and hold with words those ideas and matters of thought that have not yet been fully understood.  To speak, or more generally, to use the senses, is our way to enlighten understanding, whereupon it is only those things that are left unsaid, or that have yet been revealed, that the intellect truly understands.  By the concept and definition of a word, we give boundary, by which is meant exclusion, so that the objective reality that we come to take as truth w…

A First Attempt in Latin Translation



Cicero's Pro Achia ch. 7.

On the utility of literature in his defence of the poet Archias:

I will admit that many men have existed who were excellent in mind and in virtue, but had no learning, and by the habit of their natures, on account of some divinity, moderated themselves by their own gravity. Though of course, I will add that, when we speak of honour and virtue he has always been more valued who was strong in mind but without learning than he who had the required education but not the character to go along with it. Yet I will contend to this that when a certain method and conformity of learning approaches to a select and distinguished character, how illustrious and of such singular nature these men appear before us. From this, we should count him who our fathers saw, that divine man Africanus, then C. Laelius, L. Furius, both moderate and virtuous men; then that most firm and most learned man of the times, M. Cato the elder; all of whom, were it not adjudged that any virtue could be had or perceived in literature, never would have carried themselves to the task of its study. For if literature did not show forth so many fruits, and it were only sought after from delight, I still believe you would judge this outlet for the mind to be one of the most humane and liberal attractions possible--nothing else is able to fit the times, the age or the place so well. These studies nourish adolescence, amuse old age, ornament the good times, offer refuge and solace to the bad, delight us at home, burden us not when we are away, and spend the night with us, whether we voyage or search leisure.

And the original:

Ego multos homines excellenti animo ac virtute fuisse, et sine doctrina naturae ipsius habitu prope divino per se ipsos et moderatos et gravis exstitisse, fateor: etiam illud adiungo, saepius ad laudem atque virtutem naturam sine doctrina quam sine natura valuisse doctrinam. Atque idem ego contendo, cum ad naturam eximiam atque inlustrem accesserit ratio quaedam conformatioque doctrinae, tum illud nescio quid praeclarum ac singulare solere exsistere.

Ex hoc esse hunc numero, quem patres nostri viderunt, divinum hominem Africanum; ex hoc C. Laelium, L. Furium, moderatissimos homines et continentissimos; ex hoc fortissimum virum et illis temporibus doctissimum, M. Catonem illum senem: qui profecto si nihil ad percipiendam [colendam] virtutem litteris adiuvarentur, numquam se ad earum studium contulissent. Quod si non his tantus fructus ostenderetur, et si ex his studiis delectatio sola peteretur, tamen (ut opinor) hanc animi adversionem humanissimam ac liberalissimam iudicaretis. Nam ceterae neque temporum sunt neque aetatum omnium neque locorum: haec studia adulescentiam alunt, senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant, adversis perfugium ac solacium praebent, delectant domi, non impediunt foris, pernoctant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur.

Translated by Douglas Thornton


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