Wednesday, October 28, 2020


The Lack of Rewards for Learning

Stephen C. Ferruolo, The Origins of the University: The Schools of Paris and Their Critics, 1100-1215 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985), p. 100, with note on p. 335:
In Missus sum in vineam, another satire on the lack of rewards for learning, the complaining scholar—this time a poet rather than a theologian—does actually choose to give up study rather than suffer the hardships of poverty. Lamenting his own inability to find patronage, the poet advises others of the uselessness of learning. Why honor books or spend time studying in Paris when even Homer, if he went to a court empty-handed, would be thrown out? No more of this learning, he exclaims. Why should he endure poverty and the miserable life of a scholar? It is far better to sleep in a soft bed with a woman than to endure long nights of study in a cold room alone. For him, life without wealth is no better than death, and besides, money is needed to support love. So why not quit? Learning only makes men proud and causes young men to boast. The poem ends with a call to others, too, to give up their studies and spend their time eating and drinking.14

14. Missus sum in vineam, ed. Strecker, no. 6, pp. 82-88.
The reference is to Karl Strecker, ed., Moralisch-Satirische Gedichte Walters von Chatillon (Heidelberg: Winter, 1929). The Latin text with an English translation by Robert Levine can be found here (scroll down to Poem 6).

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