THE SCHOLASTIC LEARNING
"THE university at Erfurt used to be of such standing and repute that all the others might be looked upon as junior colleges in comparison."1 This remark of Martin's in the Table Talk belongs to a period more than a quarter of a century after his graduation. He could still recall his ecstasy when he was received into the rank of masters: "What majesty and splendor there was when one received his master's degree! They brought torches to him and presented them. I think that no earthly joy could be compared with it." These recollections and the regrets that he voiced at the decay of the university after the religious revolution give us some idea of the depth of the Erfurt experience. In later days he has, to be sure, many bitter things to say about university learning, particularly in the field of theology, and Erfurt does not escape: "It is no better than a stall full of sows," he declares in a well-attested remark in the Table Talk;2 and six years later he speaks with sorrow of the decay of the university due to the attitude of the archbishop of Mainz.3 These remarks stem from years of polemical bitterness and concern what he held to be an outworn theology. Occasionally also he recalls the pettiness and uselessness of the sophistry and word-splitting in his university training. The dialectic of his day was a "futile playing with words, with 'universals' and 'predicaments'" and a fighting of "horrible battles" about them without understanding their use.4 On another occasion he is said to have remarked to his friend Justus Jonas: "If your son were twenty years old I could teach him all the sophistical expressions with their meanings in three hours."5
Nevertheless, intensive practice in the "little logic" and the Aristotelian Organon set an enduring stamp on young Martin's impressionable mind. The first subjects which a young teacher has to present to pupils are usually____________________
TR, III, Nos. 2871a and 2871b.