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Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola on the Conflict of Philosophy and Rhetoric Author(s): Quirinus Breen Reviewed work(s): Source

: Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Jun., 1952), pp. 384-412 Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 23/10/2012 04:46
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DOCUMENT GIOVANNI PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA ON THE CONFLICT OF PHILOSOPHY AND RHETORIC BREEN BY QUIRINUS In April of 1485ErmalaoBarbarowrote to Pico 1 a letter in which he sharply criticizes the scholastic philosophersas being rude, dull, uncultured,barbarians. He did not deny them genius and learning, though his concessionis grudging. But he categoricallydenies them immortalityas authors,for it is a shining and elegant, at least a pure and chaste style, which confers immortal reputation on an author. He did not doubt but they dealt with good subject matter; but this would not save their reputations, unless indeed bad poets should be honoredas Homers and Virgils because they had the same matter of song. Barbaro'scriticismtakes up about a third of his letter-a fact which he had apparentlyforgotten when he wrote his long reply to Pico. In this reply he complains that Pico has pounced on some things he had said, in a mere cornerof his letter, about contemporary barbarianphilosophers. It is, however,quite possiblethat he had not his criticismof the scholasticsan importantpart of his letconsidered ter, and that the heavier burdenof it was a criticismof Pico. While complimentinghim effusively Barbaro drops remarks which betray dissatisfactionwith his style. The attack upon the scholastics may have been a mere elaborationof remarkson the importanceof Greek letters; it may also have been intended as a way of holding up a mirror for Pico to see himself as he will be if he is not careful. I am more inclined to favor the latter view. Thus the letter would declare the scholasticsas passe-despite their matter-because they did not produce a literature in classical form; and Pico is warned that he is headed for oblivion for a similar reason. This would accountfor the nature of Pico's famous letter of June, 1485. On the one hand, its style is in the best literary tradition; it
the letters of Barbaroand Pico on pp. 391-412. On Barbarocf. Barbaro (Venice, 1922); ThomasStickney,De Hermolai Almoro ArnoldoFerriguto, Barbarivita atque ingenio (Paris, 1913); on Pico see E. Garin, GiovanniPico della Mirandola: Vita e Dottrina (Florence, 1937); E. Anagnin, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola:Sincretismoreligioso-filosofico (Bari, 1937); L. Dorez and Thuasne,Pic de la Mirandoleen France (Paris, 1897); Avery Dulles, Princeps Concordiae:Pico della Mirandolaand the Scholastic Tradition (Cambridge,Mass., 1941); P. Kibre, The Libraryof Pico della Mirandola(New York, 1936). 384
1 Translationof




shines with phrases, metaphors, apt historical and literary illustrations; it is warm throughout with sustained eloquence. This document won the unboundedpraise of Politian,2who said it was dashed off in a few morning hours, by Barbaro and later by Melancthon.3 Pico has been spoken of as a vain man; and it were no marvel had he been somewhatconceited; for such were his achievementsin classical learning that he was a recognizederudite when barely past twenty. The gorgeous style of the letter may well have been Pico's answer once for all that in humanisticattainments he could equal if not surpass the best of his contemporaries. On the other hand, Pico defends the scholasticsas philosophersand as immortals. He says that for six years of his life he has been engrossedin the study of Thomas,Scotus, Albert, and Averroes. If these are not immortalsall his lucubrations have been for nothing. The defense is made with such passion as to lead one to think of it as an apologiapro vita sua. Towardsthe end he attempts to climb down from his lofty perchby saying that he has written somewhatsportively,as it were,playing a dialecticalgame like that of Glaucondefendinginjustice not from convictionbut to stimulate Socratesto the praiseof its opposite. I take this to have been an after-thought,feeling perhapsthat he ought not to have talked at the top of his voice to a friend. The letter truly voices his opinion on the subject of the relation of philosophyto eloquence. It is true that he for that of Greekliterastates he has given up study of the barbarians ture, and to an extent that representedthe facts; but the following year (1486) we find him at workon his nine hundred" Conclusiones," whose preface contains these words: "In the detail of these theses, instead of adheringto the rules of classic elegance,he [Pico] has purposely adopted the manner and diction of the most celebratedParisian disputants,the same being in most general use amongst the phi4 losophersof our times." Ferrigutoqueriesif Pico's later mannerof praisingErmolao (in the Preface to the Apologia) may indicate that he considered his letter of 1485 a work of juvenile audacity.5 Whetheror not Pico changedhis view is of little moment in the present discussion; for the letter's line of argumentis as important and interesting as is the position itself which it defends.
2 Cf. W. Greswell,Memoirsof Politian,Picus of Mirandola,etc. (London,1805),

211. 3 CorpusReformatorum, IX, 687f. 4 Greswell,op. cit., 229. 5 A. Ferriguto,op. cit., 321 and note 1. The quotationfrom Pico is interestingand handsome-but not decisive.

to join the two is wicked (nefas). 402-412.386 QUIRINUS BREEN Pico nowhere intimates that there is no place for rhetoric. The suspicionthat he might be a foe of rhetoricas such is answeredby the rhetoricalcharacterof the letter. I do not doubt but some paradoxremains. Barbaroreplied with two letters. Just so a physicist describingphysics to laymen in that science would perforcehave to use terms known to his readers. he voices his deep regardfor Pico.the method of rhetoricdiffersfrom that of philosophy. however. The philosopher's is in knowing (cognoscenda) and demonstration of truth. scholasticism. that in the strict sense of the term he was here not philosophizingbut writing about philosophyfor the benefit of rhetoricians. The formerdeals with words.and to sucsole business ceed in it he must stoop to deception. below. however.and if he would persuadethem of his subject's importancehe must resort to devices which the technician has ever tended to scornin the popularizer. Pico might answer. The orator affects verbal ornaments. He again makes a point of the paradox of Pico's eloquence in defending the The main burden of the argumentis carried by a fictional representativeof 7 See pp. He holds. a brief he more commonlyspeaksof it) must be kept clearly distinct and separate from philosophy. Fourth. he intimates the existence of a realm of knowledge in which a man can contemplate wordlessly. that rhetoric (or eloquence. Pico distinguishes between the subject-matter of rhetoric and philosophy. .7 In the first. For while he is not cultured (non est humanus) who is alien to polite literature. but he tries to keep his good humor by jesting about a barbarousman (a pun on his own name) defendingeloquence.he that is destitute of philosophyis less than a man (non est homo). and also announcesthat a more detailed letter is to follow. Finally. It has occasioned much astonishment that so brilliant a young man should be so paradoxicalas to defend such a thesis with such rhetorical elegance. Second. his doctrine of man shines through. This need not diminish the validity of the arguments for the divorceof philosophyfrom rhetoric. This first letter breathesannoyancebecause Pico's attack had become public property. Third. Here are some of the points he makes: 6 First.the latter with things (res).while an eloquent man (Pico) is defending its want. rhetoricand philosophy are thereforeincompatible. he deprecates the rhetorician'semphasison expressionin language as such. Somewhat later came Barbaro's elaborate answer. Philosophersare more complete as humans. he must persuade.

in civil affairs it is permissible.but immediately grants the reasonablenessof the very opposite. and utterly futile because the defendants cannot appreciatehis dazzling composition. Then he bows to the authority of Plato and Aristotle. He says the oratorsdo not depreciatephilosophersbut want eloquent ones. In the latter there need never be any lying. If he is defendedat all. moral. While Pico had created a fictional representativeof Scholasticism to plead his case. RHETORIC 387 but now adds that Pico had been insincerein his defense. and divine. however. The Paduan gives up too easily. that words are groundedin the nature of things. to wit. Pico had made little more of this than to say that if languageis a matter of this kind it is of little moment whether it is classicalor not. He argues the question whether orators must deceive. Barbaro'sPaduan says he has not granted a single point. on the theory that two goods are better than one. masters of both rhetoric and . if attribute his victory to his eloquence. If this be so. for oratorypertains to civil affairsand to things natural.the oratorscover him with confusion. This Paduan is equally suspicious of Pico's motives and method. let it not be by eloquence. they are appropriatelyjudged by philosophers. He expects him. Finally. When to this he poses two alternatives. Of this alternative Barbaro makes nothing. Too much of an argumentis made against words being objects of arbitrarychoice. But he had also offeredanother alternative. His elaborationof this and similarquestions by means of analysisof Pico's rhetoricalsyllogismssharpensthe paradox of Pico's method. Barbarohas (so he says) a living barbarianfrom Padua make the main reply. genteel Pico's apparent hatred for the liberal arts. though they hardly fit the Paduan.but even here the rule is not that oratorsalways lie or that all oratorslie. In climax he thrusts against classical. His distinction between the philosopheras contemplatorand as man of affairs strikes at the root of the debate and might well have been elaborated. he praises Pico for saying philosophydeals with things (res) and needs no ornament. He says not. What chance has he in this court where judge and witness are the same man? Barbaro'sPaduan is in my opinion something of a ventriloquist's dummy. barbarians.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. Pico is said to have intended to show the barbariansto be defenseless without eloquence-a treacherousdevice. The copious quotationsfrom Ciceroare to the point. but he says in the same breath that the case might be argued along the lines of accepted commonplacesappropriatethereto.

9 Th. Pico defendedthe Latin of the scholasticsfor philosophicaland scientific purposes.Ciceroim Wandelder Jahrhunderte(Leipzig and Berlin. True.but the descriptionfits Pico.but it seems just to interpret it as a hyperbolicdefense of the distinction as such. calling him that ape-like Paduan. being pithier and preciser. part of that method being logic. Philosophy and rhetoric have each their respective subjectmatters. 1912).in a court. He ends with a few more darts thrust with a hand gloved in jokes. He says "a famous philosopherhad defended the position that scholastic Latin. Pico. But immediatelyhe becomes doubtful whether apodixis can be attained. 179f. the fact remainsthat Pico had in mind 8 See note 3. He does not doubt that truth is knowable. . This may have been felt by Melancthon (1558) who either did not know it or sought to improve upon it in a letter en8 In generalthe titled: Responseto Pico in behalf of E. took his stand in the tradition of Aristotle and scholasticism that truth can be known and that there is a method of knowing it. Zielinski." positions of Pico had not been shaken: 1. Barbaro then dismisses him. Zielinski9 tells of German criticism denouncing humanistic rhetoric as the curse of Germany. The formerpertainsto things as they appear to the intelligence or understandingand not immediatelyto action. Barbaro. should be preferredto the Ciceronian-humanistic. or as the objects of approval or disapprovalin occasionaladdresses. However this may be. be it in a deliberative assembly. the latter pertains to things in an aspect under which they are to be acted upon. This seems to representBarbaro'sown position.388 QUIRINUS BREEN philosophy. Who will decide? he asks. The Paduan says that as a philosopherhe wants conclusive proof (apodixis). But he ends by demandingdefense by his own kind who have no eloquence. on the other hand. Barbaro's had used false premisesin some of his rhetoricalsyllogisms has not upset this distinction. Barbaro'sletter has not shaken this contention. Philosophy uses its own peculiar method. The reply was clever but it missed some good points on which to join the issue.but (like a Pyrrhonist) no longer has a sure way of knowing the way. 3. and is content to leave everything else to the orators." He does not name this philosopher. Pico argued in effect that there is a distinction between philosophy as a searchfor truth by its own methodologyand philosproof that Pico ophy as a rhetoricaltopic or commonplace. it is paradoxical. 2.

for the latter truth pertained to philosophy. i. In this he exaggerates. sometimes it cannot be expressed in words at all but only in symbols which may be quite abstract. of pro- . I trust it is not overstraining his meaning to say that he implies a criticism of scholasticism in creating his very eloquent barbarian spokesman.e. Barbaro was wrong because wisdom has often been expressed without elegance. however. that the scholastic style has proved itself to be a style worthy of philosophy. Still Pico's thesis is not overthrown.. their work was on its level as truly a craft or specialty-and as severable from considerations of literary taste-as was the work of the scholastic logician. His letter itself proves that he knew how to compose in the best literary tradition. Neither Pico nor Barbaro had come to full clarity on questions of style. persuasiveness for the general reader) and the deliberately non-rhetorical style of most scholastics (fidelity to the subject only. As I take it. truth for them pertained to what is classical Latin. but he was esthete enough not to like it altogether. But of course Barbaro was mistaken in demanding that philosophy must perfect itself through rhetorical discourse. If the former is attained by polite letters. viz.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. As to a doctrine of man he seems to hold that it is proper to be humanus. The disputants might have done well to have recognized this clearly. a complete human being. All in all. technical terms). In this he is quite mistaken. not a barbarian.. and appreciated the good literary taste for which Petrarch and others had contended. that it is truly literary art. and he treats Lucretius with utter lack of sympathy. which he virtually confesses. Barbaro had said that the scholastics had produced no specimens of the latter. Pico would have done better to attack the rhetorician's claim to being an artist. He was doubly wrong in thinking that rhetorical discourse is the most charming and elegant. Undoubtedly Pico loved fine literature. After all we owe to their kind our lexicons and grammars. to be a humanist. He is also too thin-skinned about the "grammaticasters " who crow over their etymological discoveries. in Aristotle's Metaphysics. as say. the latter is more important than the former. He seems to imply the possibility of being homo without humanus (in the Renaissance sense at least). he does not equate humanus with homo. In their way they were as concerned with truth as were the scholastics. that is. But he makes uncritical use of Plato's banishment of poets. the latter is achieved through philosophy. as one who is somewhat more eloquent than his fellows. agreeableness. 4. but one must also be homo. RHETORIC 389 the contrast between the rhetorical style of humanism (clearness. Pico gives the impression of thinking that wisdom or philosophical truth should lack charm or elegance.

Pico believed the scholastics to have been right. His reference to Scriptureis interesting in that his illustration from it is the languageof the Law. Georgius Gemistius Pletho's Criticism of Plato and Aristotle (Menasha. his writing has charm and exquisite elegance. Pico has reflectedvery much more deeply on the meaning of things. for whom rhetoricalarrangement. and through imagination he conceives phrases and figures so as to touch and. W.but only to other wise men. All this points to unclear thinking on the problem of style. seeing there had been other effective ways of transmitting truth. Pico developed it as a principle articulated in his studies of all available religions and philosophies. but he need not be. while Barbaro's.delight men. Pletho. 57ff. there is no mention of Isaiah'smagnificentmetaphorsor of the delightful parablesof Christ. would have seemed frivolous to require it for philosophy. an inauguratorof Fifteenth Century Platonic studies in Italy.. and agreeablenessare worse than useless.10Ficino took over this idea and elaboratedit. truly unspeakableto requirethat philosophybe tied to any one languageor kind of expression."is not. op. He may be an artist. It was therefore. his imaginationcan soar wonderfully. 25ff. though " humanistic.but even had it not been objectionable. For literatureis a productof imagination:throughimaginationthe writer has conceivedof some aspect of the meaning of things.Wis.. By this test Pico's letter is a workof art. Taylor. Pico is correctin his belief that wisdomis the true pursuit of philosophy. the most charmingkind of discourse.and he was correctin holding that the scholastics sought certain knowledgethrough contemplationand logic. . The subject of the Pico-Barbaroletters is the style appropriateto philosophers. as artists often are. cit. had taught that some of Plato's doctrineshad come orally from Zoroaster by way of Pythagoras. the main tradition of philosophy is suspicious of the power of words to carry the whole freight of wisdom. Neverthelesshe is headed in a good direction. if possible. his view. O. P. 11E. etc.390 QUIRINUS BREEN ducing the most elegant. 15.. The reference to Pythagoras says in effect that. 1921). Garin. the Logos. The Philosophy of Marsilio Ficino (New York. it can be communicated. This belief of Pico had a broadercontext. 27f. 1943).. Rhetoricaldiscourseas a vehicle of philosophy to him seemed as such objectionable.stinging. as Pico sees it. invention. which is flaming. Wisdom is a possession.11 He saw in all of them the spirit of truth. Yet it is remarkablethat he does not praise the eloquenceof Plato.

" See also Leibniz's "Dissertatio de stilo philosophico Nizolii" in God. Cf. and had in fact completed the Rhetoric (Ferriguto. the latter represents his understanding of the inheritance of Aristotle. 1840). Leibniz' Verhdltnis zur Renaissance im allgemeinen und zu Nizolius im besonderen (Bonn. Honigswald. There was also Nizolius. has shown that Bruni made his famous translation under the impression that Aristotle's works were rhetorically eloquent. whose defense of rhetorical philosophical style early influenced Leibniz.). 1llff. 164. Grote. 41-47. Georg Voigt. 161-72. Much reliance was put on Cicero's assurance that the language of Aristotle was a "gold-bearing river. Hence to Averroes and other medievals he added Themistius. 1938). Die Wiederbelebung des classischen Alterthums (Berlin. Petrarch's ignorance of this is illustrated by citations in P. especially notable being his Reply to Pico. The sixteenth century saw a number of scholars championing the same cause. G. nor has it ever ended. While Barbaro undoubtedly wanted Aristotle to be on the side of a " better " philosophical style. fervid style of Scripture. 1893)." Such also was Barbaro's attempt. II. Erdmann (Berlin. the lively. Many humanists demanded that philosophical style be rhetorically clear and agreeable. Cf. he had hoped to translate all of Aristotle. op. Aristotle (London. Alongside this desire to recapture the alleged elegance of Aristotle went the desire to show that the scholastics had by their bad latinity and ignorance of Greek corrupted Aristotle's clear and agreeable prose. the second because philosophy is the art of invalidating the false and affirming the true. Leibniz (XXIII) puts Pico among those who battled in behalf of philosophical eloquence. 55-71.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. which by a not improper piety he tried to cover rather than defend. 12 The battle over the literary style appropriate to philosophy was not new. to be addressed only to the potentially wise. 1872). Un codice Padovano di Aristotele postillato da Francesco e Ermolao Barbaro. J. he also made an effort to broaden knowledge of the commentators. Bruno Tillmann. Leibnitii Opera Philosophica. Bruni had spoken of "endowing Aristotle with good Latin. Denker der italienischen Renaissance: Gestalten und Probleme (Basel. Pico sought to soften their vices. cit. Among them was Melanchthon. In this paper his part in the warfare about style is stressed. It stands to reason that they should want Aristotle's authority for this. 43f. To recognize both aspects was one of the paths toward reconciling Plato and Aristotle. Olschki. land of the Muses. and second. 1948). Incidentally.l2 University of Oregon. The former represents Pico's understanding of philosophy as Plato would have it. He considered both to answer the requirements of philosophy: the former because philosophy is wisdom. ed. Leibniz's requirement of claritas as basic for philosophy is by him (XVIII-XXV) considered to be identical with that of the humanists who warred against the scholastic " corrupters " of it. also R. Guil. Leo S. Editore (Firenze. Furthermore. II Manoscritto Plimpton 17 della Columbia University Library a New York. 1912). could scarcely have produced inelegant things. quick. that of the disputation. Kristeller. but works of Aristotle now lost." It was not known that Cicero had probably not studied our Aristotelian canon (save the Topica). "Marius Nizolius.. . E. he says that while Barbaro inveighed with great sharpness against the scholastics. O. There was also the belief that Greece. RHETORIC 391 Pico's references to the nature of philosophic discourse seem to favor two kinds: first.

I do not abase: all of this is contraryto and incompatiblewith my natural abilities.. for I have delayed to thank you who so often and in connectionwith so many subjects write and say. Why is it that in your letters I so often see myself? Why? Do you think I can find anything pleasanterthan to descry you no sooner noting than imitating some clause or periphraseor figureof speech of mine? And. Ep. I.I have many reasonsto believe that you did it out of friendship. apparentlydo this without simulationor purpose. Politianus. Venice]. Joannes Picus of Mirandula. after I became known to you gives me distinguished and respectfulmention. the best.and nothing is left of me. new and is translation complete. for the rest. or whetheryou occupy yourself thus to oblige me-in either case I owe very much to you. I owe much to ProfessorPaul Oskar Kristeller'skind help on the problems of translation. To be sure. But mark how highly I value your attestation of my worth. translatedparts of this correspondence. has a large part in fact of Pico's famous letter. ence. unassuming. and also think. I shall 1 V. I think it is a greaterthing to lower oneself and to descend than to strive for what is lofty: while the one may be the more virtuous. Second Edition (London. complimentarythings about me. I never aspire.I should rather say shy and diffident-I seem to be somethingbecause you praise me. Pico. you often pause as in a most delightful lodging-place. that is. because you approvemy works.I do not elevate. I could not see why you should spoil that flowingand flowerystyle of yours..I do not elaborate. in order that they may seem to be your own. ErmolaoBarbaro:Epistolae. 84-87.the other is certainly the more laborious and difficult. of Angelus Greswell.whetheryou give it as a professionalopinionor from an inclinationof good will: I who am. whether you considermy works worthy of the labor of imitating. Pico della Mirandola and Ermolao Barbaro concerningthe Relation of Philosophy and Rhetoric ErmolaoBarbaro1 to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: I certainly cannot but seem to you a barbarianand ingrate.e. 0. LXVIII. The errors remainingare mine alone. aside fromthe fact that in writing to many persons.I do not inspire. The readerof Greswell'sversion will entirely My detect here and there a borrowingfrom him. what a distinguishedand clearly divine genius is yours! For while the things you write are the best you expressand imitate the words of others which are the worst. Every letter of yours which has come hither [i. because in my Themistius.392 QUIRINUS BREEN The Correspondence of G. 1805). Branca (Editor). why you should resort to me who creep along the groundfollowing a poor and overtenuousthread of discourse. Your letters show that you know me thoroughly. Take away altogethermy habits of hard work and diligence. save when you or a few of your likes commendme or when I notice that you are pleased with my works even to the point of imitating them. Vol. 1943). et Carmina(FlorMemoirs P. .etc. Orationes.accordingto what you write about it. W. Even so.

whatever their matter. That which I can deny of them I do not deny altogether. Nor indeed do I count among the Latin authors those Germans and Teutons who were not really alive in their life-time. See L. is evident in the Christian writers. RHETORIC 393 some time requite you: I would not say when I shall be able to (for I never shall be able) but then when you or your relatives shall consider me able. One thing I know that you know: during many centuries there has not stood out a memorable work in good Latin done by anyone who lacked Greek letters. if you will. and of such pains that he seemed to have learned absolutely nothing. Scytha (Scita) of Feltre. I consider you a philosopher. uncultured. that which procures for an author immortal reputation is a shining and elegant style. they live in torture and reproach: why. no less gladly than truly do I make the same declaration about my friend Hieronymus Donatus. I might spur you on to become as fully familiar with the Greek as you are with the Latin. rude. coppersmiths. "Lettres inedites de Jean Pic de la Mirandole. such as. in learning.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. Who would not rather be non-existent than have such a reputation? One must admit of course that they said something of use. and that 2 Jo. and that with such ease and speed that you do not remember ever having been ignorant of Greek. however. at least pure and chaste. or unless one thinks that. I congratulated this age for having a man of such learning that there is almost nothing he does not know.3 I envision you as one who are now or will soon be an outstanding poet. formerly an Aristotelian. I see you have not only learned but swallowed them. which were your only possible deficiency and without which you would amount to nothing. ut nihil omninoscire videatur. they waste words who undertake to advise men more accomplished than themselves. and other artists are to be praised for the sole reason that the material with which they work is expensive and precious. . if Choerilus and Maevius had had the same matter of song as Homer and Virgil. Indeed. much less will they live now they are dead. Unless one thinks painters. Dorez. but you do not need goads and. they were strong in natural endowment. I will do according to my wont if I leave the manner and time of requitement to you. As to Greek letters. 3 " Tanta cura. thus in the straightening of accounts every paralogism and imposture will come from you alone and not from me. it is common to have them called dull."suggests an ironic intention. What you have written to Scytha 2 concerning the method of your studies pleased us very much. both Greek and Latin. a most eminent orator. barbarians. that you generally impute a kindness where no kindness was. such is the goodness and humanity of your entire family. the critics such as Aristarchus then by the consent of all grammarians ought to have put thein first in the ranks of the poets. by Hercules. 356. or if they live. nor can you persuade anybody else of it. However that be. in a lot of good things. Choerilus and Maevius will always be Choerilus and Maevius. Bapt." Giornalestorico della letteraturaitaliana XXV (1895). Is it not truer that. now also become a Platonist. a poet and friend of Pico and of several other scholars. sculptors.

it is so learned. always do the more recent ones so vie with the earlier. Even you may know that my words fall short of my thoughts. grave. (In June. to which you are devoted even to a fault. as if they conflicted. as it were.and as we read new delights 4 Ficino. nothing vulgar.and your glory is that about no one can that well-wornsaying be more truly repeated than yourself: throughoutall the arts many students excel their professors. being sufficientlyallured by him on my own while also having your faithful and friendly advice. it is marveloushow it affects and delights me. that words may fail the mind as much as the mind fail of matter. do I not have somethingto joke about? But perhaps I have said far too much about those tramps. so many individual excellencies. I have been wanting to know your opinion about the FlorentinePlato. or as a Greekverse puts it morepithily: many students are stronger than their professors. Pico replied with his famous letter:) 5 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola to his friend Ermolao Barbaro. (April 5. either to others or to ourselves. and hold him I always shall. Everybody can admire you. And would that mine were the felicity so to write as to body forth even partially my dear friend Ermolao. Neverthelessyou believe me to be so bold as to hope to be able to imitate you whose greatnessI cannot assess. nor can I fail to sense what I ought in one in whom all things are found. it is impossibleto hide what I think about you. cultured. Give him my best regards. full of invention. in which nothing is common. We have the word of Simpliciusfor it that " no one should hold forth about Aristotle. there is that style of yours.) Greetingsto Poliziano. I know that my thought about you remainsan infinitudebelow the heights of your learning. 678-87. dear Ermolao. thoroughly refined. orderly.who dissociatesPlato from Aristotle. would there were the power of speech to express some time what I always think. 1485. Greetings: For my part. CorpusReformatorum. I returnto my subject." But can Plato agree with Aristotle to one who does not know the books and treatises of both? Of those manuscripts you desire and which we have here I will have copies made for you at once. Plato I hold in my hands. 5 I have used the text found in IX. when I write about ridiculousfellows. Farewell. I and our friend Poliziano often read whatever letters we have of you. 1485. But would that my mind's capacity were such as to think of you according to your merits. Venice. You now embraceGreek letters not as a student but as a professor. To speak of nothing else. but just as few can imitate so no one can censure you. It is kind of you to urge upon me the books and opinionsof Plato. . nothing trivial in either words or sentences.4 but decency forbids the boldness of ever asking what you think of him.394 QUIRINUS BREEN Choeriluswould never have written the Iliad or Maevius the Aeneid anymore than Choerilusthe Aeneid or Maevius the Iliad? Well.

Besides. that if eloquence they lacked they did not lack wisdom. degrade. whatsoever you will. What I am saying is that I have lost in Thomas. who. let whoever he be come with us and find out for himself that the barbarians have had the god of eloquence not on the tongue but in the heart. but about the reasons of things human and divine. and reduce. for by the powers of eloquence you build them up in such a way that they change to whatever face and costume you please. which I could have used to become something in fine letters.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. so that it were wicked to have joined them. enlarge. Ermolao. as you say. or rouge. and being experts in argument they might take up their cause with some show of reason. where they busy themselves and dispute. only their not being joined perhaps is free from fault. and such light nothings. but in the circles of philosophers. John Scotus. At length it occurs to one of them-one of the slightly more eloquent ones-to champion his barbarism as little like a barbarian as possible. are commonly held to be dull. if in these things anyone should accuse us of dullness and heaviness. and Averroes the best years of my life. While all your letters thus impress me. uncultured. For what else is the task of the rhetor than to lie. . RHETORIC 395 bloom so inexhaustibly. In meditating on. your last one did so particularly-the one in which you sail into those barbaric philosophers. not about the mother of Andromache. Accordingly I am a Hercules enraged. so as to console me. in gatherings of sages. white into black. I am so ashamed and disgusted with my studies-for I have spent six years on those barbarians-that I wish nothing more strongly than that I had not strained myself so laboriously in so much ado about nothing. and unravelling these subjects we have been so subtle. to circumvent. who in their lifetime were not really alive. He perhaps might do it in this way: "We have lived as famous men. not in the schools of grammarians and pedagogues. and much less will live now they are dead. inquiring into. so many sleepless nights. to practise sleight-of-hand? For. that in our perpetual exclamations there is no interval to catch our breath. not about the children of Niobe. (let him find out) that eloquence should not have been joined to wisdom. by speaking. The thought has been running through my head. Who will not condemn synthetic beauty. Albert. and were they now living would live in torture and reproach. you say. rude. that if some of those barbarians were now to come back to life they might perhaps have some defense to make. in a reputable maiden? Who would not curse it in a Vestal? So great is the conflict between the office of the orator and the philosopher that there can be no conflicting greater than theirs. at length you do this to the things themselves by magical arts as it were. so that they are not what their own nature but what your will made them. it is your business to be able at will to turn black into white. and we shall live in times to come. acute and sharp that perchance we seem to have been sometimes over-solicitous and captious and too careful in the search for truth. But it is marvelous how persuasive you are and how you impel the reader's mind to whatever you wish. to be able to elevate. to entrap.

are you? Is there not a commonthread runningthrough it all? Well-spokennessis an elegant thing. All this is nothing at all but sheer mendacity. written rustically rather than a philosopher. in whatever respect. Not we. Socrateswas wont to say that Sicyonian shoes were comfortable. globose.but they are empty-headedwho carry on like Bacchantes before a Vestal. cunning hands. what Synesius said about a youth can fittingly be said about a speech: A speech with long locks is always wanton.let us say in eating or speaking.we will kiss her. You are not unaware of that.its profane use was distinctly kept separate from her sacred rites. It belongs to those whose business is not in wherethings done and things the academybut ratherin that commonwealth said are weighedin a public scale underthe eye of one who to whom flowers weigh much more than fruits. the gentlemanuses them for graciousliving besides. The same in a matronwe will condemnand prosecute. "And let whatever else I say be of no account. as it were dishonoringchastity by low comedy. and if the formerwere to affect it he were no philosopher.abominate them? Shouldwe see a young girl of flippety manners.rather than with pretty tresses with their marks or at least suggestionof immodesty. for its nature is either to enlargeby addition or to reduce by subtraction.were we to seek by such coquetriesto induce men to accept our opinion. If Pythagoras . In fact.even snippety. Not at all identical is the manner of the gentleman and of the philosopher. Wherefore we prefer ours shaggy. Will there be any affinity between this and the philosopher.and suited to the feet. but in philosophersit is neither an ornamentor a grace. if the latter neglectedthis he were not a gentleman. or for arroganceof any sort.censure. we will praise. The philosopheruses these only by necessity. we would as it were have too little confidence in our subject matter (res) and would not be on solid ground.sheer trickery. not to questions about natural and celestial things.and putting forth a false harmony of words like so many masks and likenesses it dupes the listeners' minds by insincerities. It is full of allurement and pleasure. who dishonorthe dignity of philosophicalsubjects by stylistic finery.whose entire endeavor is concerned with knowing (cognoscenda)the truth and demonstratingit to others? "Add that no one will have any confidencein us were we to affect vocal splendorsand enticing manners. One reads the sacred stories. playful eyes in an actor and dancer? In a fellow-citizen. than a taste for luxury. we admit it. but if they should not it may neverthelessappear so to your audience. on the contrary.396 QUIRINUS BREEN of coursethey may not actually becomewhat you willed. therefore. Who would not approve a delicate step. sheer imposture. the robe of Athena was not properlyan object of display. this one thing is most thoroughlytrue: Nothing is more foreignto the way of life of a philosopher. For the rest. troubled. but were not fit for Socrates. The latter belongs to questions raised in forums.who would not disapprove. for prewith true knowing nothing cisely the reasonthat in every subject concerned is more unseemlyand detrimentalthan all that elaboratedsort of discourse.

as you say. we do not doubt. We do not want our style delightful. It cannot possibly be fitting for a philosophical writing to have something theatri- .MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. I am saying. further. if he could have expressed his meaning by looks. for the very reason that inside they are empty and hollow. full of solutions. Let them therefore admire us as sharp in searching. to dissolve difficulties. because this were piquant. rude. in making a judgment serious. and graceful. something so thoroughly defended that there were no room for refutation. Had a philosopher done this. facile in analysis. RHETORIC 397 could have lived without food. What if. But we expect the silence which comes rather from astonishment on the part of the few who are looking very deeply into something. he never sees the real thing. full of question. Let them admire how in everyday expressions we put the farthest reaches of our ideas. so that only those passers-by may take it who are considered worthy of such a gift. Or again. or something brought to men from the throne of Jove. therefore. A like endeavor. fond of an artificial complexion. to wit. or. nor the vital flush which we have often perceived beneath the whiting of a powdered face. he would not have spoken at all-so far was he from polishing and adorning language. Ermolao. thorough in exploring. For the many we have not written. and is no cause for contempt. but for you and your likes. he would have abstained even from cabbages. lets his reader enjoy nothing else. uncultured? To us this is a glory. We search after the what of writing. grave. to unravel what is involved. Let them admire our style's brevity. we do not search after the how-that the style be without flourish and without flower. we are commonly held to be dull. how skillful we are. We do not expect the applause of the theater because a rounded or a rythmical period has caressed the ear. let us be cautioned against the writer who. either something dug from the inner depths of nature. Those who wish to conceal treasure not intended for sequestration are wont to cover it with refuse or rubbish. accurate in observation. " By these marks. We have seen. The very fact that we have not done what to have done were a defect ought. not to be held against us as a defect. which they could not but pollute with their even more repulsive make-up of words. we want it useful. we would have it attain majesty through rudeness (horror) rather than charm through delicateness (mollitudo). pregnant with subject matters many and great. by mind-bending syllogisms to weaken the false and confirm the true. something to be respected. thorough in making a synthesis. how well-equipped to destroy ambiguities. or that nice. adorned. we have till now preserved our memory from oblivion and. and we have been wont by fright to drive them from our feasts. will preserve it hereafter. in all writers of this sort the practice of busying the reader from the start with a various cadence and harmony. We are not unlike the ancients who by their riddles and by the masks of their fables made uninitiates shun the mysteries. or by any means short of the labor of speech. Musonius will exclaim that it is not a philosopher speaking but a flute-player piping. that of philosophers to hide their business were fitting for people who not only do not appreciate but also do not even understand them.

but it is mixed with sweets so as to delude the unsuspecting child into swallowing it. Just so wormwooddrives out sickness.398 QUIRINUS BREEN or popular. not to the word as expression. Since Plato understoodthat by their theatricals the poets often disrupt this harmony.precisely because such would give the cal. if you looked within you perceived somethingdivine. let there not be any mannerof discordin that true harmonythroughwhich man is governedas it were by rhythm. If with a philosopher's yourself away from the senses. Adopt those ears of Tyaneus by which. "Lucretius will urge to the contrary. and always unharmoniousconstructions.6 It is praiseworthyto have the Muses in the soul. modern ears do not tolerate here irregular. but that he be adequate in his subject matter and teaching. be all ears. be rendered feebler either by anger or strong desire. loathsomeand disgusting. words. So it is were one to take offense being unaccustomed at Socrates for instructingin mannerswhile either his shoe were untied or his toga hanging unevenly. when he was in rapture. delicate one. Ah.he excludedall poets from his Republic. your writings at any rate will have to be sweetenedif they are intended for the tionalsofoundin ecclesiastical writers. and not on the lips. for anything in the soul may. It is the same as that of the Sileni of our Alcibiades. not speech (ratio non oratio).there disconnected. when uttered. who for certainwould in their turn he left it to be governedby philosophers. returnto your own self in the innermostparts of the soul and the hiding-place of the mind. it is a simple fact that the revulsion from the less tasteful style of a most subtly disputingphilosophercomes not so much from a delicate stomach as from to philosophicalfare. Perhaps. appearanceof curryingthe favor of the multitude. Among them were likenesses of a shaggy face. . when you approach philosophers. applause-provoking. it is a Stoic distinc6 0 Xoyos 'ev 8&aOeeae is contrastedwith 6 Aoyos'ev 7rpoc<opa. imitated the poets by luxurihave be soon condemnedto exile should they ance of discourse.he would hear not earthly Marsyas but celestial Apollo compose on a divine cither a cosmic ear you shall have tasted melody in ineffablemodes. Being as learned as he was polished he knew it is more important for us to set in orderthe mind than delivery. "Yet I shall indicate the form of our discourse. Cicero does not desire eloquencein a philosopher. But.they do not tolerate a barbarousnomenclaturewhose very sound almost makes one shudder. that we attain to the word as thought.yet its presentation ought to be such as to conceal the austerity of its subject matter.their sweetnesswill seem the envy of "But we may be indulgingfar too much these vaulting fancies. to be careful lest what strays be reason. you will say.but within full of gems. and were one to go into a tantrum over a crookedcut of a finger-nail. when you approachflutists and citharists. a rare and precious thing. you will have to do it this way if your writings are intended for children.that although the commendations of philosophy do not as such need charmingdiscourse. Lucretius. Moreover.

wholly will have caused a loss. if he has been a good man. they are so much at their best in their natural condition that they cannot be changed in any respect without becoming is somethingin itself divine. she eagerly invites cross-questioning. not a commonplace whatever of beauty we may keep putting on. transformingwith marvelous power the whole man. Not otherwiseis it with wisdom and philosophers'teachings.if what before had been foreignto the thing is now conspicuous. enrapturedhim.flaming. besides. even when they were foolish. but alive.that is.but what odium would attach to adding it? Who would deny that what is in itself fitting would becomemore fitting by adornment? " a philosopher'sconfidence. but Socrates' bare and simple words. breathing. Firmian [Lactantius].for your potions are not only wormwoodbut purest poison. But Lactantius will assert that the truth is well enoughestablishedto influencemore strongly the mind of even aged hearers when it is arrayed in its native force and at the same time adornedwith the lights of eloquence. penetrating down to the depths of the spirit. you might perhapshave establishedour case as effectively as you broke down that of the opponents. what else may he expect from colored language but treachery? By three things will he be best persuaded:the life of the speaker. my friend. Unless you first plaster. What more shall I say? It is that good features are by paint disfigured? In general.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. they are not brightenedbut obscuredby word-painting. But a far differentmethoddo we pursuewho. more persuasivethan reading the holy scriptures? The words of the Law do not move and persuade but compel.if desirousof that kind of discoursewhich issues.I deny this with respectto many things. Well. For this reasonalone philosophypresentsherself everywherein full for from whatview. stir up. in either case you would diminish its dignity and beauty. not a gain.we do not give them wormwoodbut nectar to drink. Alcibiades said that Pericles' carefully elaboratedspeeches did not move him at all. and besides. But why do I waste words on so manifest a case? If the hearer is not a fool. let us examinethese propositions without contentiousness. you might not have said this and. but from the horrendouscave in which Heracleitus said the truth lies hidden. and sobernessof discourse. not fromthe Muses'pleasant groves.the truth of his matter. Wherefore. as we said before. Pray. "But someonewill say: Come. stinging. convey force. entrancedhim. had you concernedyourself as muchwith the holy scripturesas you have with imaginary disputations. Lactantius. It needs no added adornment. you cannot put paint on the walls of a marble house. tell what is more moving. if truth-loving. These things. RHETORIC 399 multitude. Wisdom is somethingto be reverenced. and that willy-nilly he performedwhatever Socratesordered. In fact. it hides what it covers: for the overlay shows only the overlay itself. they are rough and rustic. There are many things whose splendoryou would dim and not brighten by adding something to them. my friend. . do not endeavor to entice the multitudebut to frightenthem off.

The same will happen to you when you speak to them. An Arabian and an Egyptian will say the same thing. but not in Latin. . There is no sense in saying that the one standard is wrong and yours right. your discourse certainly is at least in Latin.7 But why introduce these innovations and use a 7Forteque aures respuunt utpote asperula. it were disgraceful to lessen. For example. so that while you do not use flowery words you do explain things in Latin words. But both of us should know what is that good Latin. More right you are when you say: It is not the Roman way of speaking. she is indivisible and unsharable. " But you will say. if so. she wants to keep herself clean and pure. Spanish. Remember the saying: Anacharsis commits a solecism among the Athenians. render her impure. reason accepts them as more cognate to the things. but not offend either. but still they will speak correctly. When they speak to us they will for many things be laughed at and to a great extent will not be understood. I do not want it perfumed. It may happen that a society of men agree on a word's meaning. nevertheless. what will prohibit those philosophers you call barbarians from agreeing together on a common norm of speaking? And let it enjoy with them the same respect as does the Roman among you. whatever you were to add would give her a taint. if this business of name-making is altogether arbitrary. instead of ' a sole hominem produci 'our colleagues will say ' causari hominem. But you are wrong when you say: Therefore it is not correct. " But if the rightness of names depends on the nature of things. if you do not wish to dignify our standard by calling it Roman? You may call it French. now in fact you are weakening in our favor. I do not require your discourse to be elegant. such as wantoning in figures or attempting bold inventions. let there be no playing with tropes and words or luxuriating in excesses. not exquisite and not neglected either. by so much you would diminish her glory. in a matter so serious. which you say is the only debt philosophers owe but fail to pay when it comes to using it in speech. we grant you that your discourse ought not be ornate. yet not of bad smell either. Should you wish but a part of her. the Athenians do so among the Scythians. so crucial. it should not please.' Forthwith you shout: That is not Latin. Like a mathematical point. add. What of it. but I do not want it filthy. or change. make her something else. That being the case. British. is it the rhetorician we ought to consult about this rightness. or is it the philosopher who alone contemplates and explores the nature of everything? And perhaps while the ears reject the names as harsh. acceptat ratio utpote rebus cognatiora. For the names of things are established either by arbitrary convention (arbitrium) or by nature. "It is well. Wherefore. come. and so far you are right. though you make no pretensions about the matter.400 QUIRINUS BREEN ever side it may please to come she knows how to maintain herself. or even what the vulgar are accustomed to call Parisian. for each thing that word is among them the right one to use for the meaning agreed on.

but we cannot live at all without a heart. that God is a mind distinct from nature. John Scotus will say that what constitutes nature is to be determined by its matter and form. though not conveniently. that God is corporeal and ignorant of our affairs. elegantly. although they were born among Latins? The simple fact is. let anyone of us write about the same subjects. the ones as well as the others should be ranked equally among the poets. like a sword in a madman's hand. knowing all things. the former only in torture and reproach. they could not have done it. as Cato says. he is not a man (homo) who were destitute of philosophy. Their inquiry concerned what is accepted.8 But Scotus will say KaTL'eVat. so as to make him the more awkward. they could not at the same time. Unwise eloquence. jl Ka' . but rather as the saying has it: he descends without stepping down. that had Choerilus sung the same themes as Homer. that everything comes about blindly. and poets who have separated eloquence from wisdom. and grant you that eloquence and wisdom may be closely connected. in Apuleius. KaC L'rLOV'T7) 8KaTovra t . and proprieties of the Roman language in Cicero. we do not ask how it was minted but what is its material.-in fact let John Scotus write about them in verse. It is the philosophers who have separated wisdom from eloquence. Let Lucretius write about nature. governing all things. and Maevius those of Virgil. rules. Do you not see the irrelevance of the comparison? We also make that very point: judge a thing by its appearance. Lucretius will say that the principles of things are atoms and the void. You have no doubt whatever but the latter will survive in great renown. what is rejected in nature. for while in the heavens they were reading the laws of destiny. not their workmanship. Ermolao. cannot but be most dangerous. I say. They are wrong who separate good sense (cor) from language (lingua) yet why are they so lacking in sense about language? Are not words. The most inarticulate wisdom can be of use. But be careful: Cicero prefers sagacity though halting in speech to stupid loquacity. But one is the appearance marking a philosopher. about providence.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. " You will counter that therefore statues are praised for their material. by a chance combination of bits of matter: but he will say these things in good Latin. meanwhile they are not concerned with what is accepted or rejected by the Romans. about God. not by its matter. and the historians. the order of the universe. There is no one but prefers pure gold bearing a Teutonic stamp to counterfeit with a Roman symbol on it. RHETORIC 401 non-Latin language. In the case of money. rhetoricians. For a thing is what it is by its appearance. He is not cultured (humanus) who were alien to polite letters. " But for the moment I will consider your position as the stronger. mark with exactness the peculiarities. in Pliny. and yet the fact that he sees everything even down to the least does not disturb his tranquility. merely the vocabularies of the dead? We can live without a tongue. the potencies of simple and the composition of mixed substances. another is that marking a poet. which in Philostratus' opinion is regrettable. and in the elements the vicissitudes of birth and death.

the other a foolish head (mens insipiens). so that. Minerva. LXXX. I. Neither do dogs care for Falernian. I should not a short time ago have taken up Greek letters and your never sufficiently praised " Themistius. Likewise. nor (I may say) of the poets. crudely. Well. I ask if any would doubt that Scotus philosophizes better than that other man who speaks more elegantly. cit. small wonder. utters blasphemies. who when they have made a couple of etymological discoveries become such show-offs. Though I should not make reply." However. . But just see how they differ! The one has a tasteless mouth (os insipidum). But I have given freely of myself in this matter. They say. I might test my abilities. so that I may hear you defend eloquence I have attacked it rather violently. that as compared with themselves they would have philosophers esteemed as nothing. pp.402 QUIRINUS BREEN these things without taste. nor do I think their case will set on fire a candid and liberal mind. the second a long one. June 3. Ep. Let me close my letter with this last remark: if those Barbarians have earned any honor and reputation only for their knowledge of things. who among philosophers are the most eloquent. as in something of ill-repute. (Barbaro replied with two letters. grudge and discord. most voluble in eloquent language. 1485. while you. let me freely express my feeling: Certain grammaticasters turn my stomach. so tout themselves. why dost thou stir up bitterness? Yet what a ridiculous thing it is: a barbarous man defends eloquence. if they got subtle. Vol. dear Ermolao. I have long been in doubt about replying. I do not fully agree with their opinions. Florence.. it is not easy to say what rank. the one does not know the decrees of the grammarians. there are many disagreeable aspects of the matter. We do not want these philosophies of yours. the first a brief. so boastfully strut around. who praised injustice. defend its want. the other. for I feared we might become the gossip of ignoramuses who would take [our conversation] not as what it is but as that which it is not. for a little while even over the protest of my feelings and natural disposition. in non-Latin words. namely. the above is perhaps what those philosophers might present in defense of their barbarism. especially the fact of my knowing your attack has 9 V." Well. Branca. their arguments might be a lot better. but to goad Socrates to the praise of justice. the other does not know the decrees of God and of nature.op. an eloquent man. The one who is most inarticulate in speech senses those things which cannot be praised enough in speech. Still. what praises are yours to boast. among the eloquent the most philosophical. 100-101. Had I thought the Barbarians right in their neglect of eloquence I should not almost wholly have left off studying them. like those who praise the quartan fever. My special aim was like that of Plato's Glaucon.) Ermolao Barbaro to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: 9 But thou. not seriously.

I am uneasy about giving you offense. As was fitting. like brutes. particularly on the most recent ones. This gives me the most exquisite pleasure. in this respect they are like slaves. as it were in connection with something else and by brief mention only. if this happened with your consent or knowledge. of an ally standing against an ally. RHETORIC 403 wandered into the hands of a good many people. I cannot but approve because you have approved. 11 V. because you-the most finished. cit. extremely busy as you are.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. the best of Latinists-you defend the barbarians against Barbaro. both elegant. of yourself opposing yourself. But such is your liberality that you reckoned your payment at a rate beyond what the law allows and excessively high. Ermolao Barbaro to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: 1 I have been expecting you to pay usury on the letters you get from me. like women. Accordingly I have in this matter preserved moderation: nobody will read my answer before you read it. LXXXI. 10 This short letter . but pretty near a volume. I should have believed you had prepared your case before this so as to have it ready for the earliest suitable occasion. which I defend. polished. Of course. never shall I cease to say. Would that this did not happen to me! Eloquence itself. and it will not be published before you agree and write me to that effect. consequently you give yourself the appearance of an enemy who champions the enemy. A second reason is that.. You have not written a letter. Venice. you have taken my words as an occasion of reviving the old contention and controversy between us and them concerning the kind of discourse appropriate to philosophers. but if it was without your consent. it was completed so rapidly that. Branca. thoroughly wrought. 101-109. is not worth such a price. But for me this turns out to be an event the gayer and jollier. not only because I love you too much but especially because in the heat of disputation many inconsiderate things slip out. Ep. Though you also have turned against them and declined further intercourse with them. I do not see how I can keep silent. how much I admire you. op. First. did I not keep in mind the thoroughly proved gifts of your genius. because under the guise of defending you utterly kill off those you defend. This I readily noticed in your last letter. pp. Vol. And now you have sent me an opus. I. take pleasure in reading my letters with such care that you do not skip over and leave unexplored even the smallest and slightest details in them. for in a certain corner of my writing.10 Never do I cease. if they cannot escape by of the longer one. was either intended as an announcement or it may not have been sent off. because the foes of eloquence cannot maintain their cause save by eloquent men. I had slashed into our modern barbarian philosophers. yet never can I be satisfied enough in saying how much I esteem. Farewell. the most cultured (humanissimus) of men. I have been unbelievably delighted in seeing how you. The bulk of this dispute already has grown to many thousands of lines.

One of these 12 (I am inventing nothing. I have been wanting to say bereft of the Muses (atoovot)--can barely move their ears. Pico." These marginal notes are given in Branca. so to say. hearing which. But what more cunning scheme could you have hit upon than to try by the highest eloquence to defend the accused who confess themselves injurious to eloquence? You have used methods which. In line with this I am informed by friends of mine in Padua that your defense-which is already being given the title of Concerning Scythians and Teutons." he went on. the rest of them fly out of hearing. your clients may very easily expose. One thing says Leukon.13 Is anyone. they could not make a further struggle or even turn a foot. of the sort almost all are who hate and sneer at the more humane letters. Allow me this jest: if you are not a deserter. I. it is an utterly ridiculous true story that I tell). for example? " I said. for a man with a small foot he wears big shoes. cit. Laudation of Typhon and the Furies-has mightily annoyed the majority of those you defend.. Marginal notes will hereafter be indicated by M.404 QUIRINUS BREEN the help of you as protector. your clients. some impious professor of grammar? He affects me as much as a mourner at the tomb of a stepmother. in other words. with whom you quarrel in word but agree at heart. For the rest we should call you a deserter. "so stupid and senseless as not to understand that this extraordinary champion is in a sly game with someone else. what need is there for so many rhetoricians? Or have they come to drinking healths to the frogs? " Seriphian frogs. they spew out. Said he: "This Pico-I take him to be a grammarian-but whoever he is. So at least in our circles. LXVII for Branca's remark that they reveal the forma mentis of Barbaro. the thing you did is to everybody most gratifying. of you as advocate. you are carrying water on both shoulders when by your method of defense you break down the case you have taken up. 110-16. see ibid. you must be a double-dealer. by Hercules. some one in the gymnasium of Padua spoke to me. provided someone of that crowd can understand the things you have said. the many examples and historical allusions of far-found learning-all like so many flowerets! It is absolutely an ocean of good things. with so many lights.-things with so great splendor endowed. Indeed.-the counterpart of Pico's. some of your clients-who are a little less like asses. because we understand where you are leading and what you mean. while in other groups your deed is differently interpreted. they abjure them. . I take no stock in the man. p. another Leukon's son. It does not matter by what method you betray the barbarians. op. so many ornaments caressing the eyes of approachers! Add the many tantalizing little sentences. he might as 12 Barbaro has a contemporary barbarian carry the argument. he is a forward and arrogant fellow. if your writing expresses your true sentiments. It turns out that I cannot follow him in either beginning or middle or end of his tune. 13 In the margin (1) of this letter as preserved in the Codex of Lucca are found the words " Ranae seriphiae dicuntur esse mutae. of you as champion..

for he is absolutely orating to the sea-shores. Now who ever in such a way defended a man that only the prosecutor understands what is said? Or who ever permitted his case to be handled thus that one who will give adverse sentence was elected to serve as judge and arbitrator? Thus there could be no occasion for even challenging [the judge]. 15 M (3) has this representation: a&roScets evidens non indiget cultu probatio per se pollens quod est philosophia The Margin has many of these double crescents. But if this is correct. Information pertaining to these representations is available in C. in fact. can befall a freeman than to owe life and safety to one whom he wishes to suffer disgrace and ruin? And if this unexpected and great champion of ours is beaten. However. likewise many in our favor. 14 M (2) names Euripides. in the future we will be said to have been saved not by our own right but by the powers of eloquence. this glory will instantly belong to his likes. Therefore the matter is called back to uncertainty: Many probabilities against us. Other figures are isosceles triangles. " But I hear he uses examples. I do not understand what he has written in our behalf. I want conclusive proof (apodixis). I have found them to interest historians of logic. 1927). once a triple one. And why not? I am a philosopher. I do not know what poet 14 said it. Prantl. to what a pass have we wretches come! Has our cause been reduced to the point where we maintain our rights by yarns and fables? Most certainly there is a place for hypothetical syllogisms. RHETORIC 405 well be defending us in Greek or Egyptian. and he will attribute his victory to his eloquence. than tenants of shops and slave-dealers and hawkers. therefore I will at least indicate the kind of figures used in the margin. But you say that everything cannot be shown by apodixis. .MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. Economy makes it inexpedient to put in these notes all the figures. since they say he cannot be beaten in eloquence: but if he wins. but it will be blackest if we win: to wit. to which we are and always want to be most hostile. which I execrate. I prefer not to be defended to being defended at such peril: to me this kind of man is to be mistrusted. upright and inverted. so that we should be in a far worse condition than work-people. What greater annoyance. But picture to yourself his defense to be faithful: if we are beaten it will be black. he will in reality be considered beaten by reason and truth.15 that sometimes there is occasion for probability. yarns. and proofs from the poets: to be sure. does not differ from hostility. II. stories. for inductions and enthymemes. as a dog loving a rabbit. 283. Unseasonable benevolence. Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande (Leipzig. the rest I leave to the orators.

they claim that of all propositionsit is the most importuning (instantissimus) and the most incisive (acerrimus). 21. Double crescent. Nothing is more perfect and complete than God. more expensive cloths. holy.406 QUIRINUS BREEN " Who will decide? Picture the thing said by that fellow. Double crescent. 5). contaminated.sometimesas of measure. 17M (5) v7rEpa7roaTmKc. more silver. even well-cared for. That is why philosophynot only permits herself to be adornedbut even loves it. cf. more marble. that philosophy accordswith things (res). defiledwith words of base origin. why the language should be importuningand incisive. The contraryis held by those who say that philosophy ought to be approached religiouslysince it is a gift divine. and they regard quantity sometimes as of number. 444). I.and my usual responseis with the argumentof two alternatives: 16M (4) Primum epicherema pro philosophis eloquentibus contra barbaros. and does not at all need the ostentation of words: this I certainly believe to be the sum of all things which may be said in our behalf. not base and muddied. and associated with religion. well. they say. it cannot be permitted to honor the gods. whom they boast to have translated from Greek into well as the latter: a noble and excellent subject ought not to be approachedwith low languagenor fouled.18of all that they teach nothing but send us back to Ciceroand Aristotle whom we have never and will never look up on these things. they say. op. "You see. the whole is a matter of quantity.and they very frequentlyuse it. also orators have been acquaintedwith the locus of contradictions and contraries. 53: IV. 33. Either of these views is provable. Prantl. this conclusion19 is said to be drawnfromthe whole. Indeed. more jewels to be seen than in temples and on altars. but because philosophy is like the divine beings who have no need of human treasuresyet wish to be reverenced and given presents. But why this proposition should be vrepawroaTcK. 18M (6) SpeLav de quo in Sophisticis(Soph. but they prefer eloquentphilosophers to such as are devoid of eloquence. Hence. not because philosophy16 without the choice of beautiful and shining words ceases to be the highest good. cit. a thing Themistiusteaches them. .. id est superabdicativa: sic enim argumentum a repug- nantibusfirmatur.the former:things which stand upon their own feet do not need crutches. XAoyos 19M (7) Secundumepicheremapro eloquentibus philosophis. yet nowhere are there more gold. This locus consists of a double negative 7 proposition.ut inquit Cicero (Topica XII. it is not to be handled with unwashedhands but clean. Now not even they esteem the philosophersbelow men of eloquence: they are too modest for that.and for the very reason that a man is more gifted when possessingtwo goods than one. Elench. and with speech that is pure. say they. This is perhapsthe more acceptable. yet forbiddento honorphilosophy. and labors at it. " Now on this I often cross swordswith professorsof grammarand like wretches.

21 in this manner: if philosophy does not at all pertain to rhetoric. Therefore.23 Plato and Aristotle. and that it does not belong to philosophy as theory. then a syllogism of the second figure would result. I answered that it [rhetoric] is the part of that philosophy that we call practical. they say. inasmuch as almost all the books of this philosopher are obscure we neglect them. To Aristotle rhetoric was a species of social science (civilis scientia) which [civilis scientia]. while they [sc. They begin 20 by contending that all philosophy is a good. Upright triangle. a statuary. conceived particulariter it pertains to the last figure and no other. if all philosophy pertains to the perfection of our mind. be it as to a part or as to a form and species: this they also demonstrate more extensively. rhetorici] say they constantly are busy in the study of them. to wit. (10) Syllogismus (11) Epicherematertium pro philosophiselegantibus. "We are further made sport of with respect to the second alternative. although-and whether Aristotle might or might not say these portentous things-we ourselves do not care. what ill-will is it to contend that the same person should not be both a philosopher and eloquent? "All this they as it were top off with their crowning argument. "I do not know whether this or the contrary is true. (9) Contrasolutionemsecundam. Double crescent. in any case no more than with the art of a cobbler. We keep away from this contest over Aristotle as from a precipice. that furthermore almost all the peripatetics hold rhetoric to be a part of philosophy. But the argument a genere is well enough understood. ex contra positis. who does not see that? To rhetoric therefore philosophy does pertain. as men who eat solid steaks of beef and pork we readily allow delicate and idle men to make away with what to us are pomenta. thereupon they proceed with the most prolonged and immoderate laughter to pick up each of the alternative propositions and rebut and resolve them in the following manner. . the authority and example of the ancients. they say. which is deceptive.22 and if rhetoric does not so pertain to it. he called interpellatio. or a bronze-worker. mutilated. But animal does pertain to man. and yet you hold it to be foul and unseemly that the philosopher hold on to rhetoric. halfperfect. though in other respects we are steadfast and unafraid. without which no one will ever be a perfect and complete philosopher: for whatever might be wanting in something it cannot be perfect and consummate.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. RHETORIC 407 (a) either eloquence is not a good or it is a good. You have granted that rhetoric is part of philosophy. neither does animal to man. conceived generaliter this pertains to the first syllogistic figure only. is what we have been trying to express to you: you want philosophers cut in two. that some philosophy is not philosophy: they say this argument was first called ex contrapositis by Aristotle. nor can I find where Aristotle said it. (b) that for the rest it has nothing to do with philosophy. whose doc20 M 21 M 22 M 23 M (8) Contraprimamsolutionem. But if the mind is perfected by eloquence. Otherwise. That.

to say that philosophy conflicts with eloquence because the orator's business is but to deceive and lie 24 is clear calumny. We ourselves do not really speak more elegantly than laborers and common folk.27 those ought to be laughed at as lying about a well-known fact who say that the coarse-haired. "Equally spirited twitting comes from those who say that the discourse of a philosopher 26 must not be soft and delicate (mollem et delicatam). a difference which Aristotle made in his Topics and Rhetoric. bristling style which philosophers now use is full of a certain reverence and majesty. . who (say they) were men of such surpassing eloquence that there is nothing more charming. The Cynic's food displeases. in moral affairs. 26M (14) Ad secundum. 27M (15) Ad tertium. as they want their food. They approve a tenor and style of speaking which holds to the mean: they want it Attic. I do not see what kind of speaking can be foul. they say. the former foul. A frugal meal pleases. dirty. Therefore. thus we would speak the vernacular better than the 24 M et solutionesad ea (12) Hic incipiunt argumentabarbarephilosophantium nostrae. 28 M (16) Double crescent. savors not at all of the peripatetic and appears to ignore that there is a difference between an orator and a sophist. not Germanic. muddy. But just as discourse which is excessively loose and broken.28 "Now here I am compelled to speak the truth (for even in a defender and advocate we do not suffer a bold falsehood): if our speech is not foul.' according to the third as well as the second figure. not Asiatic. Ad primum. The same holds for discourse. stiff. seemed to Aristotle weak and loose. more pure. more distinguished than their discourse. in things divine? For the rules of civil discourse and those of philosophical discourse are different. Upright triangle.408 QUIRINUS BREEN trines and opinions we profess. Neither. and on the other because they think that by the third figure a universal conclusion can be reached. Upright triangle. and foul diminishes the dignity and majesty of philosophy. or at least if our speech has this rudeness and majesty. But to argue from a story of Demosthenes or of anyone else that this conclusion must be strictly held as a universal rule. 25M (13) presents an inverted triangle to show that nothing can be concluded from the propositionthat Demostheneslied and was an orator. so they say. as if there were anyone who would demand in a philosopher what in an orator would not even be tolerated. that all orators lie. so discourse which is stiff. do they perceive that syllogisms 'from signs. Demosthenes employed falsehood when he denied he had sent delegates at the same time to king Philip in behalf of peace and against Philip to the allies in behalf of the league.26 is to miss the mark doubly: on the one hand. Accordingly. because they do not know that one cannot base a conclusion on individual propositions. or that which also Fabius Quintilian noted: if it is permissible to lie in civil affairs is it perhaps also permissible in things belonging to nature. so does the Persian: the latter is extravagant. that of artisans and rustics will have the same qualities.

'I rather would not use the forms speciebus and specierum. for it represents in words what he wants to say and says clearly what he wants me to understand. De FinibusI. if he does not have it I should not importune him. who had said as follows: 'But I think that like our Triarius you will be less charmed by him [Epicurus] because he has neglected those ornaments of discourse found in Plato.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS. notaries and hack-lawyers (formularii) speak otherwise than we? Yet who ever detected in their talk aught of sanctity and majesty? " There are those 29 who just as intemperately endeavor. if he does not have it I should not importune him. in the same book of De Finibus: 31 'But I take it some shun Latin works because they happen upon uncouth and boorish books which taken from bad Greek are worse when translated in Latin: I raise no objection against these if only they have no intention of reading on the same subjects in Greek works. to use a bit of evidence in Cicero who writes: 'And yet if a philosopher affects eloquence I should not hold him in contempt.. Aristotle.. which we must brighten and enliven. For I can hardly be brought to the point of assuming that the things he observed should to you appear not to be true. contrary to their own interest.' Then Cicero said. 5.' They argue that he did not say this as his true opinion but as an argument ad hominem: for in disputation many things are not so much said as one's real opinions as for the sake of either charming or pleasing or instructing. It can happen that a man who is a good thinker cannot express his ideas in polished language. unless it can be said in Latin. M (17) Ad quartum. priests and pedagogues. and nobody touches those books except the men who want the same license of writing accorded to themselves. 8. And yet if a philosopher affects eloquence I should not hold him in contempt. 32 M (21) In Tusculanisquaestionibus. 14 sq.' A thousand other passages exhibit this. 'See how mistaken you are. Do farmers. M (22) Ciceroin Topicis (7. Who would not read really good things done in choice language with dignity and ornament?' Elsewhere to the same effect: 32 ' Philosophy. At this task we ought to work hard. And consequently that kind read their own books to their own kind. 30). First. .). but if he writes out his ideas without being able to organize or explain them accurately or by any delight attract the reader.De Finibus (I. has till this era been in the doldrums and has not enjoyed the light of Latin letters. for the rest there are in Cicero many passages where this is shown. RHETORIC 409 Latin. the more so seeing that right now many books are spoken of as Latin but are written rashly by men who are certainly very fine but not particularly polished. . I am not so well satisfied with his doctrine. and Theophrastus.' 33 29 31 33 30 M (18) Cicero. Torquatus: the discourse of that philosopher does not offend me. such as the one where Cicero admonishes to avoid the novelty of an inappropriate work as well as the one in which he contends that felicity in speaking must not be neglected. 3. who wanted to refute the doctrine of Epicurus. could not have replied otherwise to Lucius Torquatus.' 30 And indeed the best of orators. he is man who intemperately abuses both leisure and letters.

By means of the second figure they say there results the following sophism.III.' seems to be spoken 'softly' or 'effeminately '. so we must find out about a method of speaking from orators. as on the one hand to assume 39 that not some but all eloquent men lie because some do. but a monster. What is there so arbitrary as laws. when that which is spoken 'ornately' or ' elegantly.XXI. that is. and they say this is altogether a paralogism of the kind called per aliquid et simpliciter: for example.Topica. Quintilian. which is appropriate for declarative. Who but an orator would have made such an error.38 with true propositions and false assumptions. using the second figure. to reveal us to a witness who would slay us? Did you know what he was going to say? Then it was perfidy. so they say. this may be called metalepsis. not produced by nature but as it were by an understanding or agreement among men. Did you not know it? Then it was rash to cite an opponent's witness who would have authority not only to argue [against you] but also to make a confession [on your behalf]. or it consists of a single syllogism. Maecenas in trousers up to his mouth as if he were a Sarmatian. which is the eighth topic in the second book of the [Aristotle's] Topics. of which one assertion is thoroughly false: 40 the discourse of an eloquent man cannot but be soft and dainty (mollis et delicatus). a man as man is not a philosopher. a word is an arbitrary symbol.410 QUIRINUS BREEN " Ho there. Nobody denies this. but there was nobody who did not criticize him. 37 M (26) Repetitio rationumadversarii:in quo quaeque earumpeccarevideatur. " Therefore their first rhetorical syllogism (aggressio) 37 consists of both syllogism and prosyllogism. The snare he falls into here consists either in words that differ but slightly: for example.36 Everything does not depend for correctness upon one's good pleasure. We speak of a cap and a cloak. 7. where is your promise of help? 34 Is this a defense or a betrayal.Institutio Oratoria. as rights. 79. 41Cicero. 36M (25) Double crescent. as ceremonies? Yet who would suffer them to be made over or changed according to the desires of a philosopher. 38 M (27) A triple crescent. according to the first figure. of course. . either what softness in discourse means or how many forms of speech there are. whoever you are. yet no one puts a cloak around his feet or wraps his body in a cap. V.4 Or the snare consists in what they call vitium consequentis: let us grant (they say) that soft and dainty discourse pertains 84 M (23) Dilemmaton. as they desire to be taught by the rules of the Analytics. because it was an arbitrary thing. so on the other hand to assign this vice to eloquence and not to man as man. 30.35 But. could sit on the judge's bench. 40M (29) Ad secundum. Whoever says this is ignorant of either of two things. no matter how outstanding or how near to God? This is particularly so for us who speak of a contemplator only and keep separate from him the practical knowledge without which. as stated first by Cicero and later by Quintilian. 35M (24) Ad quintum. Upright triangle. As we must ask and learn about shoes from cobblers and about clothes from shop-keepers. 39M (28) An uprighttriangle.

seeing they take into account neither anastrophe nor antistrophe. gravity. Cicero. 33 sq. as if there were no distinction between arbitrariness and that which one is permitted to do. dignity. 43 M 44 M 42 M . 50M (38) Double crescent. conversely. yet it is not valid. 65) nor convertible (nec convertitur: Quint. 47 M (35) Upright triangle. the one committed per aliquid et simpliciter as well as the one in the case of words that differ but slightly carry with them as a kind of error also the loose syllogism (epicherema). sanctity. rudeness. 45M (33) Upright triangle. that whatever discourse the orator uses must always be soft and dainty. But a man who says things like that appears not to understand what is majesty in speech. id est in uno. In fact it is our custom in debate always to stand firm. 6. 48 M (36) Double crescent. always to have some safe ground or hiding place from which not even Aristotle himself. Dionysius. So when Pico says that an orator lies 46 it is called false on every count. When he says.48 there is neither antistrophe nor anastrophe. 29). IX.43 They say that the same ruin and desolation comes from the final trick resulting from the arbitrariness of introducing words. however. yet I have not admitted my defeat at once. for there is neither regression (Quintilian IX.47 'The discourse of an orator is soft and dainty': it is called false in every part.45 this is the sore point of these who incur faults and fallacies of inference. " Consequently they [sc. but certainly probable. A doublecrescent. and more recently Hermogenes. as if all mean and rude discourse carries majesty before it. or as if there were no difference between rude and mean discourse. 35) nor transposition (nec commeat). RHETORIC 411 wholly to orators and eloquent men. (31) Ad ultimum. 3. what is highness. 46 M (34) Double crescent. When he says. Quintilian. meanness. never to give an inch.MIRANDOLA ON PHILOSOPHY VS.' it is called false in every part.. perhaps not true. Alexander Minutianus are full. " These are their words. Double crescent. nor does it necessarily follow that acts of free will are permissible.50 for all things permissible are not all acts of free will. rhetors] declare all this a crafty sort of argu44 ment. smelling not at all of dialectical skill. 'Rude and mean discourse is full of majesty. When he says.' it is called wholly false because 49 it is neither invertible (nec revertitur: Quint. Theophrastus. 1. its bad deductions from nonessentials and consequents are as like as possible to the reasonings of Parmenides and Melissus: with this difference. that in the more stupid of those arguments there is antistrophe where there is anastrophe-in fact. sharpness. (32) Alia repetitiorationumadversarii:in quo peccent omnisin universum. that is. for it is not manifest that all orators lie. 'Acts of free will are identical with permissible acts. Of rules concerning these subjects the books of Aristotle. nor that everybody who lies must be an orator.42 The fallacies described above. (30) Ad tertium. VIII. 49M (37) Double crescent. X. 1. They [the rhetors] say that those rhetorical syllogisms (epicheremata) of ours which may be urged against themselves are a tissue of most impudent propositions. never to yield. to wit.

A remarkablething it is that to professorsof the liberal arts it is not enoughto lack noble letters but they must hate them and make all kinds of attacks upon them. for you to expect favor from fellows whom the divine Graces never knew? Let me openly jest with you on this amusingsubject: if you failed to prove your case not only to us against whom you filed your brief but not even to those whom you defended. 0 droll ambition of some people. even in the gained nothing of it amonghis kind but a great deal amongus. yet also for this they berate us. . is it but attempting to make a grindstonegrow. forced but (I would add) impossible. Farewell. so that none are more hostile to the liberal studies than those wanting to be known as doctors of the liberal is no wonderthat you may be verifying the saying: A wonderful speech but an unconvincingspeaker.were leaders and masters of philosophy not only but also of eloquence. who would boast of the name but scorn the thing!" So then. Plato and Aristotle and all the ancientswho. seeing it will be less annoyingto be beaten fairly. but I do not want the protection of an eloquentman. For what else is this desire to defend a barbarousand stupid methodof philosophizing than wanting to whiten an Ethiopian? What else. as you write. You (for I do not stop joking) really believed you could extort by your discourse from those barbarians that trite saying. " Here is the sum total: either they have a clear and compellingcase for us. For the rest. suitable discourseis more persuasivethan the opposite kind. WhereforeI advise you. Accordingly.412 QUIRINUS BREEN were he to come back to is nothing but common and customary topics (loci communeset transpositii) that may perhapsbe arguedagainst us as much as for us. and quite unexpectedly. let them bring it forth at once. could tear us away. you have undertakena thing that is not only. not being a Syrian do not play the syrinx. and in making new friends. who with heart and tongue are our partisans. For it is more satisfactory to be manfully beaten than to win by a foul. both not put out to sea. being a land-lubber. do not forget the old ones. it is agreed. men. If they have no solid argument. and besides a victory soughtwith enemy help cannot be sweet and good to look upon. Man to man is a god. You shouldrecall the saying about the fishing line that caught nothing. To use a medical saying: You. my Pico. If they have. Everything he said I have written you cheerfullyso you might realize that. he [the Paduan] said. whoever you are.either let the matter lie or let it be taken up by men who have no art of speaking. he puts some good friend. calling it boorishnessand impudenceborn from our very contempt of polite letters.all things being equal. and I will be satisfied. I say. or they do not." So much said that ape-like Paduan. You have put up nets to catch the wind. as to popularity. and becausewe are refutedby the precedentsof illustriousmen.that is. Otherwiseyou have done accordingto the wont of the generous and wealthy. since they were saved by you. Since he has lots of pepper. do not stir this stinking bean-trefoil: we prefer to lose utterly ratherthan be saved by you.