Making and Knowing
A minimal edition of BnF Ms Fr 640 in English Translation

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For the Workshop

If anything has been omitted: the harvester is not blamed for leaving some corn ears.

If some craftsmen complain that their craft secrets are being discovered, as the goddesses of Eleusis complained to N… the Pythagorean that their mysteries were disclosed, excuse yourself in the words of the ancient Hebrews quoted by Josephus.

As a hen will carefully search the rubbish thrown out of a house for a crumb or a seed to distribute to her chicks, so will the orphans receive whatever has been discovered in those arts that are considered vile and despicable.

Tablet of Cebes: idle. But The Workshop represents all things active.

If the jealous will disapprove picking up these things and taking them from others, reply that since “Nullum est jam dictum quod non dictum aut factum sit prius” and it is commonly believed that all arts were invented within a thousand years, do not imagine you could invent anything new but rather rediscover the long—buried, unknown and forgotten books of Numa in order to reveal them to those who are ignorant of them; and that, just as the day before teaches the day after, you also needed to learn from those before you in order to teach those after you. The Latins learnt from the Greeks, as Cicero did from Plato and Virgil from Homer (Aulus Gellius). Valerius Maximus only reawakened various authors who had written previously, and Livy’s 23rd book [revived] the 2nd or 3rd book of Polybius. Among the Egyptians, Serapis was deemed the inventor of agriculture, but among the Sicilians, it was Ceres. Pythagoras and others from Tyana learnt during their travels those disciplines which, back in their countries, they claimed to have invented. Does one not call a weaver the maker of his precious cloth or fabric, even though he did not himself dye and twine [the yarn] nor wind and prepare the reels and balls of thread? Is a mason not the builder of the house, for picking up ready—made stones? “Apollo a Chirone medicari didicit & tamen deus medicinae habitus.” “Homerus Orphei poema imitatus est, nam cum Orpheus sic prius exorsus esset, ‘Iram cane dea Cereris frugiferentis’, ita reddit Homerus, ‘Iram cane dea Pelidae Achillis’”. In Justino martire, Circa princip.