— Michelangelo Buonarroti Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet 1475 - 1564
Variant translation: Still I learn!
As translated by Ralph Waldo Emerson in "Poetry and Imagination" (1847)
Inscribed next to an image of Father Time in a child's carriage, as quoted in Curiosities of Literature (1823) by Isaac Disraeli. Disraeli's attribution is, however, spurious. The attribution is retraceable to Richard Duppa's The lives and works of Michael Angelo and Raphael (London, 1806), where the author mistakenly attributes a drawing by Domenico Giuntalodi to Michelangelo Buonarroti. The original motto, properly spelled in Duppa as "ANCHORA IMPARO," was popular throughout the 1500's (thus in the course of Michelangelo's life), signalling the return of old age to childhood (bis pueri senex). The motto appeared in one of Giuntalodi's drawings (an image known to us through engravings and etchings by contemporaries), together with the indication that learning is a lifetime endeavor (a Latin phrase from Senaca's 76th Letter to Lucilius is cited to this effect). However, Giuntalodi's drawing--where time's elapse (an hourglass) stands before man's quest for learning--conveighs the "anchora imparo" message in a finely satyrical manner, suggesting the futility of human endeavors (for a kindred antecedent, see 1 Corinthians 13:11), with a specific allusion to humanist learning. See Sylvie Deswarte-Rosa, " Domenico Giuntalodi, peintre de D. Martinho de Portugal à Rome http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/rvart_0035-1326_1988_num_80_1_347709", in Revue de l'Art, 1988, No. 80, pp. (52-60). Deswarte-Rosa misleadingly links the "ancora imparo" motto to Dante Alighieri, to whom Deswarte-Rosa attributes a modified version of a citation that Dante offers with critical intent of Seneca in Convivio IV.12.xi. Throughout Convivio IV.12, Dante distinguishes between ordinary empirical learning (depicted at best as futile) and a philosophical learning returning to "first things." Dante's conclusion is that, "lo buono camminatore giunge a termine e a posa; lo erroneo mai non l'aggiunge, ma con molta fatica del suo animo sempre colli occhi gulosi si mira innanzi"--"The good walker arrives at an end and a rest; the one who errs (i.e. goes astray) never reaches it, but with great effort of the will always with gluttonous eyes looks ahead of himself"; ibid. xix.