Nicolas Poussin, Orion aveugle cherchant le soleil, 1658
Nicolas Poussin, Orion aveugle cherchant le soleil (1658)

Dicebat Bernardus Carnotensis nos esse quasi nanos, gigantium humeris insidentes, ut possimus plura eis et remotiora videre, non utique proprii visus acumine, aut eminentia corporis, sed quia in altum subvehimur et extollimur magnitudine gigantea. et his facile acquieverim, quia artis praeparatitia et multos articulos veritatis tradunt artium praeceptores, etiam in introductionibus suis, aeque bene antiquis, et forte commodius. quis enim contentus est iis, quae vel Aristoteles in Periermeniis docet? quis aliunde conquisita non adiicit? omnes enim totius artis summam colligunt, et verbis facilibus tradunt. vestiunt enim sensus auctorum quasi cultu quotidiano, qui quodammodo festivior est, cum antiquitatis gravitate clarius insignitur. sunt ergo memoriter tenenda verba auctorum, sed ea maxime quae plenas sententias explent, et quae commode possunt ad multa transferri, nam et haec integritatem scientiae servant, et praeter hoc a se ipsis tam latentis quam patentis energiae habent plurimum.
(John of Salisbury, Metalogicon 3.4)

Bernard of Chartres used to compare us to [puny] dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature. I readily agree with the foregoing. Teachers of the arts, even in their Introductions, explain the basic elements of the art and many truths of the science equally as well as, and perhaps even better than do the ancients. Who is content even with what Aristotle gives in his [book] On Interpretation? Who does not add points obtained from other sources? All are gathering together everything [they can] that pertains to the whole art, and explaining it in terms that may be easily understood. They, so to speak, dress the message of the authors in modern style, which becomes in a way even more splendescent when it is more brilliantly adorned with the jewels of antiquity. Accordingly the words of the authors should not be lost or forgotten, especially those which give [their] full opinions, and have wide applicability. Such words preserve scientific knowledge in its entirety, and contain tremendous hidden as well as apparent power. (tr. Daniel D. McGarry)

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