ΠΡΟΣ ΤΟΝ ΑΠΑΙΔΕΥΤΟΝ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΒΙΒΛΙΑ ΩΝΟΥΜΕΝΟΝ
1Καὶ μὴν ἐναντίον ἐστὶν οὗ ἐθέλεις ὃ νῦν ποιεῖς. οἴει μὲν γὰρ ἐν παιδείᾳ καὶ αὐτὸς εἶναί τις δόξειν σπουδῇ συνωνούμενος τὰ κάλλιστα τῶν βιβλίων· τὸ δέ σοι περὶ τὰ κάτω χωρεῖ, καὶ ἔλεγχος γίγνεται τῆς ἀπαιδευσίας πως τοῦτο. μάλιστα δὲ οὐδὲ τὰ κάλλιστα ὠνῇ, ἀλλὰ πιστεύεις τοῖς ὡς ἔτυχεν ἐπαινοῦσι καὶ ἕρμαιον εἶ τῶν τὰ τοιαῦτα ἐπιψευδομένων τοῖς βιβλίοις καὶ θησαυρὸς ἕτοιμος τοῖς καπήλοις αὐτῶν. ἢ πόθεν γάρ σοι διαγνῶναι δυνατόν, τίνα μὲν παλαιὰ καὶ πολλοῦ ἄξια, τίνα δὲ φαῦλα καὶ ἄλλως σαπρά, εἰ μὴ τῷ διαβεβρῶσθαι καὶ κατακεκόφθαι αὐτὰ τεκμαίροιο καὶ συμβούλους τοὺς σέας ἐπὶ τὴν ἐξέτασιν παραλαμβάνοις;1 ἐπεὶ τοῦ ἀκριβοῦς ἢ ἀσφαλοῦς ἐν αὐτοῖς τίς ἢ ποία διάγνωσις;
2Ἵνα δέ σοι δῶ αὐτὰ ἐκεῖνα κεκρικέναι, ὅσα ὁ Καλλῖνος εἰς κάλλος ἢ ὁ ἀοίδιμος Ἀττικὸς σὺν ἐπιμελείᾳ τῇ πάσῃ ἔγραψαν,2 σοὶ τί ὄφελος, ὦ
The Ignorant Book-Collector
Truly, what you are now doing is the reverse of what you are aiming to do. You expect to get a reputation for learning by zealously buying up the finest books, but the thing goes by opposites and in a way becomes proof of your ignorance. Indeed, you do not buy the finest; you rely upon men who bestow their praise hit-and-miss, you are a godsend to the people that tell such lies about books, and a treasure-trove ready to hand to those who traffic in them. Why, how can you tell what books are old and highly valuable, and what are worthless and simply in wretched repair1—unless you judge them by the extent to which they are eaten into and cut up, calling the book-worms into counsel to settle the question? As to their correctness and freedom from mistakes, what judgement have you, and what is it worth?
Yet suppose I grant you that you have selected the very éditions de luxe that were prepared by Callinus or by the famous Atticus with the utmost care.2
- 1Not old, though they look old.
- 2Both Atticus and Callinus are mentioned again as scribes in this piece (24); Callinus is not elsewhere mentioned, but Atticus is supposed to be the “publisher” of the Atticiana, editions which had great repute in antiquity. It is hardly likely that he is Cicero’s friend.