Thursday, January 30, 2020


Indiscriminate Admiration of Antiquity

Tacitus, Annals 2.88.4 (tr. J.C. Yardley):
We, who praise the deeds of antiquity, have little interest in those of recent times.

vetera extollimus, recentium incuriosi.
The Annals of Tacitus. Edited with Introduction and Notes by Henry Furneaux, 2nd ed. rev. by H.F. Pelham and C.D. Fisher, Vol. I: Books I-VI (1896; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 385:
A similar protest against indiscriminate admiration of antiquity is found in 3.55, 6. The sentiment of Velleius (2.92, 4), 'praesentia invidia praeterita veneratione prosequimur, et his nos obrui illis instrui credimus,' is transferred by Hobbes (Leviathan, conclusion) from the judgement of actions to that of literature: 'The praise of ancient authors, proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living': cp. Dial. 18.
Tacitus, Annals 3.55.6 (tr. J.C. Yardley):
And not everything was better in our ancestors' days, either — our own age, too, has produced many instances of excellence and artistic merit deserving to be imitated by posterity.

nec omnia apud priores meliora, sed nostra quoque aetas multa laudis et artium imitanda posteris tulit.

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