Thursday, March 22, 2018


Overloading the Mind

Quintilian, Institutes of Oratory 1.8.18-20 (tr. John Selby Watson):
To examine, indeed, what all writers, even the most contemptible, have ever related, is a proof either of extravagant laboriousness, or of useless ostentation, and chains and overloads the mind, which might give its attention to other things with more advantage.

For he who makes researches into all sorts of writings, even such as are unworthy to be read, is capable of giving his time even to old women's tales. Yet the writings of grammarians are full of noxious matters of this kind, scarcely known even to the very men who wrote them.

Since it is known to have happened to Didymus, than whom no man wrote more books, that, when he denied a certain story, as unworthy of belief, his own book containing it was laid before him.

persequi quidem quid quis umquam vel contemptissimorum hominum dixerit aut nimiae miseriae aut inanis iactantiae est, et detinet atque obruit ingenia melius aliis vacatura.

nam qui omnis etiam indignas lectione scidas excutit, anilibus quoque fabulis accommodare operam potest: atqui pleni sunt eius modi impedimentis grammaticorum commentarii, vix ipsis qui composuerunt satis noti.

nam Didymo, quo nemo plura scripsit, accidisse compertum est ut, cum historiae cuidam tamquam vanae repugnaret, ipsius proferretur liber qui eam continebat.

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