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“It is said that he had naturally a very dull wit, and that he was upon the point of leaving the cloister, because he despaired of attaining what his friar’s habit required of him, but that the Holy Virgin appeared to him, and asked him in which he would chuse to excel, in philosophy or divinity; that he made choice of philosophy, and that the Holy Virgin told him he should surpass all men of his time in that science, but that, as a punishment for not chusing divinity, he should before his death, relapse into his former stupidity. They add, that, after this apparition, he shewed a prodigious deal of sense, and so improved in all the sciences, that he quickly surpassed his preceptors; but that, three years before his death, he forgot in an instant all that he knew: and that, being at a stand in the middle of a lecture on divinity at Cologne, and endeavouring in vain to recal his ideas, he was sensible that it was the accomplishment of the prediction. Whence arose the saying, that he was miraculously converted from an ass into a philosopher, and, afterwards, from a philosopher into an ass.” (The Magus, Book II, Francis Barrett)

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