Tuesday, March 16, 2021


Read from the Beginning to the End

Cyril Mango (1928-2021), Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981), p. 239, with note on p. 301:
Here is the advice that Cecaumenus, a retired general, gives to a young man destined for a military career:
When you are free and not busy with a commander's duties, read books, both histories and Church writings. Do not say, 'What benefit is there for a soldier from ecclesiastical books?', for you will profit greatly from them. If you pay sufficient attention, you will reap from them not only doctrines and edifying stories, but also gnomic, moral and military precepts. Indeed, almost the entire Old Testament is concerned with strategy. From the New Testament, too, the assiduous reader will derive many precepts for the mind.
And again: 'Read a great deal and you will learn a great deal. Persevere, even if you do not understand, for after you have read a book several times, you will receive discernment from God and you will understand it.' And once more:
When you have taken a book, read it in private. After you have read a little, do not start counting pages or choosing passages you like best and reading only those. Nay, you should start from the cover where the text begins and read the book until not a single word is left, and in this way you will profit greatly. For it is the trait of a superficial person not to read a whole book twice or three times, but to pick some snippets out of it for the sake of chatter.14
14 Cecaumenus, Strategicon, ed. G.G. Litavrin, ยงยง 21, 46, 63, pp. 154, 212, 240.
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