The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Are to Write…

"Jerome's lion sits patiently as he contemplates the Ablative Absolute" [Jerome, not the lion, –Phil.]

“Jerome’s lion sits patiently as he contemplates the Ablative Absolute” [Jerome, not the lion, –Phil.]

Grandes materias ingenia parva non sufferunt et in ipso conatu ultra vires ausa succumbunt; quantoque maius fuerit, quod dicendum est, tanto magis obruitur, qui magnitudinem rerum verbis non potest explicare.

–Hieronymus, Ep. 60

Small genius does not support great matters, and having dared beyond its strength succumbs in the very attempt; and the greater be the thing to be told, the harder he falls who is not able to unfold in words the greatness of matters.

–Jerome, Letter 60 (trans. mine)


And what king, before going to war, does not sit down to find out if with ten thousand days he can overcome a two-hundred page dissertation, lest he find himself going to seek for mercy from the hostile forces of his bibliography?

Back from vacation today I went down a rabbit hole that started with Cupid and ended with Jerome (as, I begin to think, after thousands of pages of Jerome, do all fourth-century rabbit holes). This shall be my motto as I write, found on the day when I received a letter from my own Jerome, a Cistercian who announced the successful defense of his dissertation, “the best d*** dissertation on Luke possible”!

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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