Saturday, 9 August 2014

Augustine on Ambrose's reading habits...

"When he read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart explored the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still.  All could approach him freely and it was not usual for visitors to be announced, so that often, when we came to see him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.  We would sit there quietly, for no one had the heart to disturb him when he was so engrossed in study.  After a time we went away again, guessing that in the short time when he was free from the turmoil of other men's affairs and was able to refresh his own mind, he would not wish to be distracted.  Perhaps he was afraid that, if he read aloud, some obscure passage in the author he was reading might raise a question in the mind of an attentive listener, and he would then have to explain the meaning or even discuss some of the more difficult points.  If he spent his time in this way, he would not manage to read as much as he wished.  Perhaps a more likely reason why he read to himself was that he needed to spare his voice, which quite easily became hoarse.  But whatever the reason, we may be sure it was a good one."

                                                                                    - The Confessions, Book VI.3

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