In Hermann von dem Busche's Vallum Humanitatis, a spirited defense of renaissance humanism against scholastics at the University of Cologne, I have come across a puzzling passage.

Ecce tibi, quam pulchre promovent bona studia, quamque recte curent honorem universitatis suae, qui fere sicut Ephesii neminem apud se frugi esse patiebantur, ita ipsi apud se neminem aut docere, aut discere eloquentiae studia permittunt. Sed si quis extiterit forte talis, dicunt, alio in loco, & apud alios sit ille.

Two marginal notes are attached. The first corresponds to the beginniing of the line:

Eia qualis isti promotoris studiorum

The second corresponds to Ephesii:

Ephesii publico edicto omnes frugi de sua civitate exire iusserunt

I have two questions about this passage.

First, what is happening grammatically in the first marginal note? The noun promotor is found in other, related works, so is this to be understood "isti [sunt] qualis promotoris studiorum"? It seems awkward.

Second, what is the expulsion of people from Ephesus referred to in the text and the second marginal note?

  • Seb & I have been chatting about the uses of "frugi" (below): how would you translate this in the second marginal note?
    – tony
    Jan 4, 2022 at 11:34
  • @tony frugi is a dative of purpose (in A&G terms) that originally meant something like "(good) for eating" and then was applied more broadly to mean "useful, serviceable, fit for some purpose." It is used like an adjective, but instead of declining to match the case of the head word, it always remains dative. homo frugi = good/useful/worthwhile person Jan 4, 2022 at 16:44
  • @tony so I would translate something like "By public edict the Ephesians ordered all the worthwhile people to leave their city." Just as, according to Busche, the university is driving out the humanists, the truly educated men. Jan 4, 2022 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


The first marginal note seems to mean: "Hah, what advancers of studies these are!" It's an accusative (plural) of exclamation. As pointed out by TKR, the nominative isti cannot be squared with that, but I have no better explanation than that it should read ipsos.

The passage refers to the event that Strabo recounts in his Geography, 14,1,25:

Among illustrious persons in ancient times natives of Ephesus were Heracleitus, surnamed Scoteinus, or the Obscure, and Hermodorus, of whom Heracleitus himself says: “The Ephesians, youths and all, deserve hanging, for expelling Hermodorus, an honest citizen, a citizen distinguished for his virtues, and saying, let there be no such amongst us; if there be, let it be in another place and among other people.”

While obviously originally in Greek, a widely used Latin translation of the Geography was published by Wilhelm Xylander in 1571. He renders the passage thus:

Viri in ea memorabiles nati sunt, antiquis temporibus Heracleitus qui Scoteinus, id est tenebricosus fuit ob obscuritatem sermonis cognominatus. & Metrodorus, de quo sic Heracletus: Digni sunt Ephesii qui ad puerum usque omnes strangulentur, quod Hermodorum virum inter ipsos frugi eiecerunt, addito, Nemo nostrum frugi esto, aut alibi id esto & inter alios.

This translation is perhaps what Busche refers to.

  • 3
    If it's an accusative of exclamation, what do you make of the nominative isti?
    – TKR
    Dec 30, 2021 at 22:41
  • @TKR Good point, I overlooked that, but my best guess would be that it is a misprint. Dec 31, 2021 at 14:31
  • 1
    Eia does not call for an accusative of exclamation, so if it’s a misprint, I would be inclined to read it the other way: eia quales isti promotores studiorum. This accords nicely with the main text. Dec 31, 2021 at 16:22
  • 1
    @Kingshorsey OK, but then you need to emend two words instead of one... Dec 31, 2021 at 18:28
  • 1
    @tony please note that these are two completely independent translations (into English and Latin, respectively) of the same Greek original, which as far as I'm concerned is an impenetrable wall of squiggly curls. In fact, they may even be based on different versions of the original, who knows. What I can see is that the key Greek word here is ὀνήιστος. Messrs. Hamilton and Falconer said "honest," Xylander went with frugi (and not honestus), for which I would say "honest" or "virtuous." Jan 3, 2022 at 20:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.