Thursday, July 03, 2014


De Homine Academico

Evelyn Waugh, Edmund Campion (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1935), p. 36:
With the project of the Irish University in his mind, he prepared a discourse De Homine Academico, an elaborate portrait of the ideal student. This paper has not survived in its original form, but we have an oration delivered shortly afterwards at Douai on the same subject, which was probably derived from it. Here he insists upon the virtues of piety, modesty, kindness, obedience, upon grace of deportment and civility of manners. The student's pronunciation must be specially cultivated, his mind "subtle, hot and clear, his memory happy, his voice flexible, sweet and sonorous; his walk and all his motions, lively, gentlemanly, and subdued." His recreations are painting, playing the lute, singing at sight, writing music with facility and correctness. His first years at school are devoted to Latin, the rudiments of Greek and the control of his own language, in which he must compose verses and epigrams. Later he must become a finished debater in philosophy, modelling himself upon Cicero; by his sixteenth year he must be able to write Greek iambics. He must master all histories, classical and modern, the ethics and politics of Aristotle and Plato, logic and natural science, so as to deserve the title of "oracle of nature." His habits of study must be regular and collected; he must not "dull himself with unseasonable vigils" but allow seven hours' sleep at night and a proper attention to toilet and appearance. He must neither write licentious and amorous verses, nor fall into the puritanical extreme of eschewing the great literature of the past which occasionally bore this character. He must be a dialectician, an orator, an astronomer, and in his last year of study a master of Hebrew. He must be respectful to his superiors, generous in judgment of his equals, courteous and helpful to the obscure.
I have "small Latin and lesse Greek," and I can sight-sing. Otherwise I fall far short of the ideal.

Hat tip: Taylor Posey.

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