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Philautia.

Self-satisfaction.

Qud nimium tua forma tibi Narcisse placebat,
In florem, & noti est versa stuporis olus.[1]
Ingenii est marcor, cludesque [=cladesque] philautia, doctos
Quae pessum plures datque deditque viros.
Qui veterum abiecta methodo, nova dogmata quaerunt.
Nilque suas praeter tradere phantasias.

Because your beauty gave you too much satisfaction, Narcissus, it was turned both into a flower and into a plant of acknowledged insensibility. Self-satisfaction is the rot and destruction of the mind. Learned men in plenty it has ruined, and ruins still, men who cast off the method of teachers of old and aim to pass on new doctrines, nothing more than their own imaginings.

Notes:

1. For the story of Narcissus, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.344ff. On the flower, see Pliny, Natural History, 21.75.128: “there are two kinds of narcissus... The leafy one ... makes the head thick and is called narcissus from narce (‘numbness’), not from the boy in the story.” (cf. ‘narcotic’).


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