previous next

THOSE who have spoken Latin and have used the language correctly do not give to the word humanitas the meaning which it is commonly thought to have, namely, what the Greeks call φιλανθρωπία, signifying a kind of friendly spirit and good-feeling towards all men without distinction; but they gave to humanitas about the force of the Greek παιδεία; that is, what we call eruditionem institutionemque in bonas artes, or “education and training in the liberal arts.” Those who earnestly desire and seek after these are most highly humanized. For the pursuit of that kind of knowledge, and the training given by it, have been granted to man alone of all the animals, and for that reason it is termed humanitas, or “humanity.”

That it is in this sense that our earlier writers have used the word, and in particular Marcus Varro and Marcus Tullius, 1 almost all the literature shows. Therefore I have thought it sufficient for the present to give one single example. I have accordingly quoted the words of Varro from the first book of his Human Antiquities, beginning as follows: 2 “Praxiteles, who, because of his surpassing art, is unknown to no one of any liberal culture (humaniori).” He does not use humanior in its usual sense of [p. 459] “good-natured, amiable, and kindly,” although without knowledge of letters, for this meaning does not at all suit his thought; but in that of a man of “some cultivation and education,” who knew about Praxiteles both from books and from story.

1 De Orat. i. 71; ii. 72, etc.

2 Fr. 1, Mirsch.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, 1927)
hide References (7 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: