Saturday, April 19, 2008


O Seri Studiorum

Pomponius the jurist, in Digest 40.5.20 (tr. Tim G. Parkin):
For in my desire for learning, which down to my 78th year I have regarded as the single best principle for living, I am mindful of the maxim of the one who is reported to have said: "Even though I may have one foot in the grave, I want to learn something new."

Nam ego discendi cupiditate, quam solam vivendi rationem optimam in octavum et septuagesimum annum aetatis duxi, memor sum eius sententiae, qui dixisse fertur: κἄν τὸν ἕτερον πόδα ἐν τῇ σορῷ ἔχω, προσμαθεῖν τι βουλοίμην.
I found this in Parkin's Old Age in the Roman World: A Cultural and Social History (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), p. 75. If you combine Parkin's excellent notes on pp. 344-345 with those in James Diggle, Theophrastus: Characters = Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries, 43 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 477, you'll probably have a nearly complete set of references to ancient authors on the subject of opsimathy.

I'll be poaching from these two collections in the weeks to come, because this is a subject that interests me. In his Adagia Erasmus quotes Pomponius to illustrate the proverb alterum pedem in cymba Charontis habere (to have one foot in Charon's boat).

Minutes after posting this, I saw a quotation by Theodore Dalrymple cited by Patrick Kurp:
All in all, my life is a rich one, and it rich because the world is so much richer than my life can ever be. I don't think I will lose interest in the world until the day I die, and my only regret is that I will not have long enough to learn much more than I have learnt.

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