The Difference Between a Teenager (Which an Old Man may Be) and a Wise Man (Which a Teenager Could Be)

Assassinat de Cicéron, "The Assassination of Cicero", from a 15th century MS of the French "Les cas des nobles hommes et femmes," or, "The Cases of Noble Men and Women"

Assassinat de Cicéron, “The Assassination of Cicero”, from a 15th century MS of the French “Les cas des nobles hommes et femmes,” or, “The Cases of Noble Men and Women”. The Rubric says, “The 12th Chapter contains the case of the noble philosopher and prince of eloquence Tully, Roman Consul, and begins in Latin.

sed tamen quis iste tantus casus, unde tam felix concursus atomorum, ut repente homines deorum forma nascerentur? Seminane deorum decidisse de caelo putamus in terras et sic homines patrum similes extitisse?

Vellem diceretis; deorum cognationem agnoscerem non invitus. Nihil tale dicitis, sed casu esse factum, ut essemus similes deorum. Et nunc argumenta quaerenda sunt, quibus hoc refellatur: utinam tam facile vera invenire possim quam falsa convincere! –Cicero, De Natura Deorum, 1.91.

But yet what is such a great chance as that, whence such a happy coincidence of atoms, that men should suddenly be born in the form of gods? Do we think that the seeds of gods have fallen down from the sky to the earth and that thus men have arisen from them like their fathers?

Pray tell; I would not unwillingly come to know the generation of the gods. You are saying that it is no such thing, but that it happens by chance, that we are like the gods. And now we must seek arguments whereby this may be refuted: would that I could discover the truth as easily as prove the false! –Cicero, On the Nature of the Gods, 1.91.


The clown who passes himself off as a satirist today would hide himself for shame if he had but enough discipline and humility to admit the first thing, the only thing which Socrates claimed to know, rather than boast that his phantom of superiority is invincible to scarecrows.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being my gadfly.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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