Philip Melanchthon

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Philip Melanchthon (February 16, 1497April 19, 1560), born Philipp Schwartzerdt, was a German reformer, collaborator with Martin Luther, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, intellectual leader of the Lutheran Reformation, and an influential designer of educational systems.


  • Opto autem, ut sapientum Principum consilio, et autoritate aliquando, et ex aliarum gentium Ecclesiis, et nostris, pii et eruditi viri convocentur, ut de omnibus controversiis deliberetur, et una consentiens forma doctrinae vera et perspicua, sine ulla ambiguitate posteritati tradatur.
    • But I hope that by the decision and authority of wise princes that sometime devout and learned men from the churches of other nations and of ours may be summoned together to deliberate about all the controversies and that there be handed down to posterity one harmonious, true, and clear form of doctrine, without any ambiguity. Meanwhile, as far as possible, let us encourage the union of our churches with measured advice.
    • Alternate translation: Moreover, I desire that with the plan of the wise rulers and with their authority, pious and learned men at some time be called together both from our own churches and the churches of other nations in order that there might be a deliberation about all these controversies, and that one consenting form of doctrine, true and clear and without any ambiguity, might be handed down to posterity.
      • In Melanchthon in English: New Translations into English with a Registry of Previous Translations: A Memorial to William Hammer (1909-1976), Lowell C. Green, Charles D. Froehlich, Center for Reformation Research, 1982, p. 24. [3]
  • Ab ipso colaphos acceperim or Ab ipso colaphos accepi.
    • I have received blows from him.
    • Letter to Vito Theodoro (Veit Dietrich (1506-1549)), February 23, 1544 wherein Melanchthon complains of having been stuck (colaphos) by Luther. In Corpus Reformatorum, 1838, volume 5, p. 322. [4]
    • See also The Mystery of Iniquity Revealed, Or, A Contrast Between the Lives of Some Anti-Christian Popes and the Godly Reformers: with the Essence of Protestantism, London: Richardson and Son, 1849, p. 190. [5]

Praise of eloquence (1523)Edit

as translated by C. Salazar, in Orations on Philosophy and Education (Cambridge University Press: 1999)

  • It does not make such a difference whether you are simply mute or employ no art for speaking. For it is not feasible that you can express what you think as it should be understood unless you acquire and strengthen the ability to speak by art.
    • p. 61
  • How miserable is the condition of men when the better a thing is, the further it recedes from our sight and the less it is recognized.
    • p. 62
  • No one will be able to speak suitably and clearly about anything unless he has shaped his speech by some art, by imitation of the best.
    • p. 62
  • Does the painter imitate the body correctly if he guides his brush without any method, and if his hand is moved at random and the lines are not drawn with art? In the same way you will not put the sentiment of your mind in front of the others’ eyes unless you use appropriate and distinct words, a fitting arrangement of words and the right order of sentences. For, just as we represent bodies by colours, we represent the sentiment of our mind by speech.
    • p. 63
  • You can see for what reason I commend the study of eloquence to you—because we can neither explain what we ourselves want, nor understand the surviving writing written by our ancestors, unless we have thoroughly studied a fixed rule for speaking. For my part, I do not see how there could be others who wish neither to explain what they think, nor to understand what is excellently said.
    • p. 64
  • The shadow does not follow the body more closely than eloquence accompanies sagacity.
    • p. 65
  • Sagacity and eloquence are linked together to such an extent that they cannot be torn asunder for any reason.
    • p. 66
  • What do you believe was on the mind of the ancient Romans that they called the arts of speaking humanity? They judged that, indisputably, by the study of these disciplines not only was the tongue refined, but also the wildness and barbarity of people’s minds was amended.
    • p. 66

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