I understand word meanings, but cannot put them together and understand what author meant in following:

I enquire now as to the Genesis of a philologist and assert the following:

If you need further context, here is the rest:

  1. A young man cannot possibly know what Greeks and Romans are.
  2. He doesn't know wether he is suited for finding out about them.
    • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • I have no idea what the author means, can you please post some source and context? It reads like nonsense. Aug 11, 2018 at 19:43
  • I don't have more to add. Its printed on beginning page of a book just like above. Book is by another author.
    – doubleE
    Aug 11, 2018 at 20:29

1 Answer 1


As you have told us that this appears on the beginning page of a book this is a little quote to indicate the topic of the book.

A philologist is someone who studies language, particularly the classical languages of Greek and Latin.

Nietzsche asks (Enquires) about how philologists start their study (the Genesis of philologists)

His reasoning is "Young men can't know about the Romans" therefore "A young man cannot know if he will be good at finding out about the Romans" (and therefore no young man will choose to become a philologist)

He suggests that this is some kind of "chicken and egg" situation. But this doesn't seem to be anything very deep, more a joke by Nietzsche:

Why would anyone study Latin unless you know you are going to be good at it. And how do you know you will be good at it before you study it?

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