Vol. 47 (2021): XLVII - 2021

An Uneducated Human Being is a Tree Without Fruit

Published June 21, 2021
  • Boccaccio,
  • proverbial saying,
  • textual transmission,
  • Greek,
  • Latin,
  • Hebrew
  • ...More


No prior source has yet been discovered for the proverbial phrase transcribed by Boccaccio in his autograph manuscript of the Bucolicum Carmen, ἄνθρωπος ἀγράμματος ξύλον ἄκαρπον (“an uneducated human being is a tree without fruit”). This paper provides new evidence from medieval Hebrew, which shows that a version of the saying was in fact in circulation prior to Boccaccio.