Scaliger on Learning Greek

I finally had a chance to dig out the Latin text of Scaliger’s autobiography. Here is the (in)famous passage in which he discusses learning Greek, first briefly with Adrien Turnèbe in Paris, but shortly after, on his own—me magistro. Here Scaliger makes the claim, incredible even for a man who would go on to demonstrate such prodigious erudition, that he read all of Homer in Greek in 21 days with the help of a translation and his comparative grammar notes. He then writes that he read the rest of the Greek poets in the next four months, holding off from reading any of the orators or historians, until this was finished.

Anno aetatis meae decimonono Lutetiam post obitum patris petii literarum Graecarum amore, quas qui nescirent, omnia nescire putabam. Postquam menses duos operam Adriano Turnebo dedissem, quia destitutus aliis praesidiis operam omnem in eius doctissimo auditorio ludebam, in museum me abdidi, & in illo pistrino inclusus, quod ex aliis non potueram, me magistro discere experiebar. Igitur vix delibatis coniugationibus Graecis, Homerum cum interpretatione arreptum uno & viginti diebus totum didici: poeticae vero dialecti vestigiis insistens Grammaticam mihi ipse formavi: neque ullam aliam didici, quam quae mihi ex analogia verborum Homericorum observata fuit. Reliquos vero poetas Graecos omnes intra quatuor menses devoravi. Neque ullum oratorem, aut historicum prius attigi, quam poetas omnes tenerem.

From Poemata Omnia (1615)

One comment

  1. […] had written earlier this year about J.J. Scaliger’s extreme experience as a Greek autodidact. I submitted this passage to @QuidAgitur‘s Lecta Delecta, The Best Ancient Literature of […]

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