The Latin saying Ad fontes is an essential motto of humanism – the intellectual current of the Renaissance – and can be translated as “To the sources”. Renaissance humanism, whose origins lie in Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, supported a comprehensive reform of education. This meant that the highest goal should be to form the human being, which should lead the mental abilities of the individual to full relief. The maintenance of the linguistic expression was important, which meant that a central role was played by the use of language, the correct expression – both oral and written – in Latin. Ad Fontes’ guiding principle is that in studying, one should rely on the original texts and sources of Greek as well as Roman poets and philosophers to be able to grasp the background of theories, world pictures and literary works. The motto was shaped in 1511 by the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam.
The theologian, philosopher, philologist and author Erasmus of Rotterdam (c. 1466 / 67-1536), who is regarded as an essential designer of humanism, was regarded as a multiplier. More than 150 books are from his pen, drawing exclusively on Latin and gaining tremendous attention for his oeuvre during his lifetime. Erasmus of Rotterdam took the view that people are not born as human beings, but are educated as such. He assumed that the study of the ancient scholars, especially of the Greek philosophers, and the restoration of their original texts, was essential for this. Thus he writes in De ratione studii ac legendi interpretandique auctores (1511):
Sed in primis ad fontes ipsos properandum, id est graecos et antiquos.
Translation: Above all, one has to hurry to the sources themselves, that is to say, to the Greeks and the elders at all.
This work of Rotterdams has become programmatic for humanism, that is, the essential foundation which described the aims of the current. The essential aspect is that Rotterdam points out that one should consult the original source of a matter to properly grasp this matter. Ebendie’s approach also inspired and inspired the theologian Martin Luther.
During the Middle Ages especially the Latin translation of the Bible Vulgata was used, which since the late Antiquity against other translations of the Gospels penetrated. When, in the course of the Reformation, Martin Luther transferred the Bible into German, he did not use this translation, following the approach of ad fontes, but relied on ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and ancient Greek sources.
This reasoning is subsequently found in numerous authors of humanism. Thus the philologist, philosopher, humanist, theologian and philologist philosopher Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), for example, demanded from the students of the Wittenberg university that they “learned Greek to Latin so that [they], if they [the philosophers] Theologians, the historians, the orators, the poets [to read] to the point itself, do not “embrace their shadows.”
Short overview: The most important overview
The Latin saying Ad fontes means To the sources. It is considered as a motto of humanism and was characterized above all by Erausmus of Rotterdam. The saying means that when you study a text, you should refer to the original in order to understand the essentials and not rely on false assumptions.
The phrase is related to the phrase Ab initio, which can be translated from the beginning, meaning that a thing is developed or learned from the beginning. In addition, the motto is the Abovo narrative, which means the egg, and means that a text is told of the beginning and shows the prehistory of the action.
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