Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Reading List

Erasmus, De Ratione Studii 3, tr. William Harrison Woodward, Desiderius Erasmus Concerning the Aim and Method of Education (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1904), pp. 163-164:
But I must make my conviction clear that, whilst a knowledge of the rules of accidence and syntax is most necessary to every student, still they should be as few, as simple, and as carefully framed as possible. I have no patience with the stupidity of the average teacher of grammar who wastes precious years in hammering rules into children's heads.

For it is not by learning rules that we acquire the power of speaking a language, but by daily intercourse with those accustomed to express themselves with exactness and refinement, and by the copious reading of the best authors. Upon this latter point we do well to choose such works as are not only sound models of style but are instructive by reason of their subject-matter. The Greek prose-writers whom I advise are, in order, Lucian, Demosthenes, Herodotus: the poets, Aristophanes, Homer, Euripides; Menander, if we possessed his works, would take precedence of all three. Amongst Roman writers, in prose and verse, Terence, for pure, terse Latinity has no rival, and his plays are never dull. I see no objection to adding carefully chosen comedies of Plautus. Next, I place Vergil, then Horace; Cicero and Caesar follow closely; and Sallust after these. These authors provide, in my judgment, sufficient reading to enable the young student to acquire a working knowledge of the two great classical tongues.


For I affirm that with slight qualification the whole of attainable knowledge lies enclosed within the literary monuments of ancient Greece. This great inheritance I will compare to a limpid spring of whose undefiled waters it behoves all who truly thirst to drink and be restored.
The Latin, ed. Jean-Claude Margolin, from Erasmus, Opera Omnia, I.2 (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1971), pp. 115-116:
Verum vt huiusmodi praecepta fateor necessaria, ita velim esse, quoad fieri possit, quam paucissima, modo sint optima. Nec vnquam probaui literatorum vulgus qui pueros in his inculcandis complures annos remorantur.

Nam vera emendate loquendi facultas optime paratur, cum ex castigate loquentium colloquio conuictuque, tum ex eloquentium auctorum assidua lectione, e quibus ii primum sunt imbibendi, quorum oratio, praeterquam quod est castigatissima, argumenti quoque illecebra aliqua discentibus blandiatur. Quo quidem in genere primas tribuerim Luciano, alteras Demostheni, tertias Herodoto. Rursum ex poetis primas Aristophani, alteras Homero, tertias Euripidi. Nam Menandrum, cui vel primas daturus eram, desideramus. Rursum inter latinos quis vtilior loquendi auctor quam Terentius? Purus, tersus et quotidiano sermoni proximus, tum ipso quoque argumenti genere iucundus adolescentiae. Huic si quis aliquot selectas Plauti comoedias putet addendas quae vacent obscoenitate, equidem nihil repugno. Proximus locus erit Vergilio, tertius Horatio, quartus Ciceroni, quintus C. Caesari. Salustium si quis adiungendum arbitrabitur, cum hoc non magnopere contenderim, atque hos quidem ad vtriusque linguae cognitionem satis esse duco.


[V]erum ex instituto omnis fere rerum scientia a graecis auctoribus petenda est. Nam vnde tandem haurias vel purius, vel citius, vel iucundius quam ab ipsis fontibus?

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