Monday, May 29, 2023


Learned Idiot

Franco Montanari, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (Leiden: Brill, 1995), p. 1376:
μωρόσοφος -ον [μωρός, σοφός] idiot savant LUC. Alex. 40.
Eric Thomson per litteras:
I'm not sure the context in Lucian warrants that translation. Idiot savant is one thing, learned idiot quite another. For every idiot savant there are at least a thousand learned idiots.
Lucian, Alexander the False Prophet 40 (tr. A.M. Harmon):
Often in the course of the torchlight ceremonies and the gambols of the mysteries his thigh was bared purposely and showed golden. No doubt gilded leather had been put about it, which gleamed in the light of the cressets. There was once a discussion between two of our learned idiots in regard to him, whether he had the soul of Pythagoras, on account of the golden thigh, or some other soul akin to it...

πολλάκις δὲ ἐν τῇ δᾳδουχίᾳ καὶ τοῖς μυστικοῖς σκιρτήμασιν γυμνωθεὶς ὁ μηρὸς αὐτοῦ ἐξεπίτηδες χρυσοῦς διεφάνη, δέρματος ὡς εἰκὸς ἐπιχρύσου περιτεθέντος καὶ πρὸς τὴν αὐγὴν τῶν λαμπάδων ἀποστίλβοντος. ὥστε καὶ γενομένης ποτὲ ζητήσεως δύο τισὶ τῶν μωροσόφων ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, εἴτε Πυθαγόρου τὴν ψυχὴν ἔχοι διὰ τὸν χρυσοῦν μηρὸν εἴτε ἄλλην ὁμοίαν αὐτῇ...
There is no gloss on the word in Hugo Rabe, ed., Scholia in Lucianum (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1906), p. 184. On the word in Erasmus and Thomas More, see C.R. Thompson "Some Greek and Grecized Words in Renaissance Latin," American Journal of Philology 64.3 (1943) 333-335 (at 333-334).

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