Friday, December 16, 2005


Portrait of a Scholar

This portrait of a scholar is a mosaic of passages from Montaigne's Essays (tr. E.J. Trechmann).

1.24 (Du pedantisme):
I know one who, when I question him on what he knows, asks me for a book to show it me, and will not venture to tell me he has an itchy backside without straightway consulting his lexicon to find the meaning of 'itchy' and of 'backside'.
See him returning after fifteen or sixteen years employed in study. All the progress you discover in him is that his Latin and Greek have made him more proud and conceited than he was before he left home. He should have brought back a full mind, and he only brings a puffed-up one; instead of enlarging it, he has only inflated it.
1.38 (De la solitude):
This other, dripping from eyes and nose, that you see leaving his study after midnight, do you think he is searching among his books how to become a better, wiser, or more contented man? Not a bit of it. He will die or he will teach posterity the metre of a line of Plautus, or the correct spelling of a Latin word.
Quid rides? Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur. (Horace, Satires 1.1.69-70) -- Why do you laugh? Change the name, and the joke's on you.

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