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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
The Greeks Us / Greece in West  

Hugh of St. Victor, Learn gladly from everyone

From Didascalicon


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

    HUMILITY is the beginning of discipline; and although there are many examples of this, these three especially are important to the reader: first, that he should hold no knowledge and no writing cheap; second, that he should not be ashamed to learn from anyone; third, that when he himself will have attained knowledge, he should not scorn others. This has deceived many, who wished to seem wise prematurely. Hence they swell up with selfimportance, so that now they begin to pretend to be what they are not, and to be ashamed of what they are, and thus they withdraw further from wisdom, because they wish, not to be wise, but to be considered wise. I have known many of this sort, who, while they are still lacking in the first elements, deign to interest themselves only in the most advanced, and on this account they think that they themselves have become great, if only they have read the writings, or heard the words of the great and wise. "We," they say, "have seen them; we have read their works; they often speak to us; those distinguished, those famous men know us."

    But would that no one recognized me, if I might know everything. You glory in having seen Plato, not in having understood him; I think then that it is not worthy of you to listen to me. I am not Plato, nor do I deserve to see Plato. It is enough for you that you have drunk at the fount of philosophy, but would that you were still thirsty! A king drinks from an earthen pot after he has drunk from a cup of gold. What are you ashamed of? You have heard Plato, you will also hear Chrysippus. As the proverb says: "What you do not know, perhaps Ofellus knows". It is given to no one to know everything, and yet there is no one who has not received from nature something peculiar to himself. The prudent scholar, therefore, hears everyone freely, reads everything, and rejects' no book, no person, no doctrine. He seeks from all indifferently what he sees is lacking in himself; he considers not how much he may know, but how much he may not know. Hence the Platonic saying: "I prefer to learn modestly from another, rather than shamelessly to thrust forward my own knowledge." Why are you ashamed to learn and not ashamed to be ignorant? This is more shameful than that. Or why do you strive for the heights, when you are lying in the depths? Consider rather what your powers are strong enough to bear. He advances most suitably who proceeds in an orderly way. When some desire to make a great leap, they fall into the abyss.

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    Related:  Cicero, I have spared no pains to make myself master of the Greek language and learning Augustine, Socrates fought foolishness, Plato perfected philosophy,  Basil the Great, Education is necessary, Gregory Theologian, Education is the highest good Papatsonis, In Rising Sound Kant, We need consistency Russell Lowell, Fecundating minds Erasmus, Folly's lineage, education and companions Plato: Who is a philosopher? - Searching for the things' reason - Out of the cave - Wisdom.

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

The Greeks Us Library

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