Obrázky na stránke

While they are in too great a hurry to make their sons take the lead in everything, they lay too much work upon them, so that they faint under their tasks, and, being overburdened, are disinclined for learning. For just as plants grow with moderate rain, but are done for by too much rain, so the mind enlarges by a proper amount of work, but by too much is unhinged. We must therefore give our boys remission from continuous labor, bearing in mind that all our life is divided into labor and rest; thus we find not only wakefulness but sleep, not only war but peace, not only foul weather but fine also, not only working days but also festivals. And, to speak concisely, rest is the sauce of labor. And we can see this not only in the case of animate, but even inanimate things, for we make bows and lyres slack that we may be able to stretch them. And generally the body is preserved by repletion and evacuation, and the soul by rest and work.

We ought also to censure some fathers who, after entrusting their sons to pedagogues and preceptors, neither see nor hear how the teaching is done. This is a great mistake. For they ought after a few days to test the progress of their sons, and not to base their hopes on the behavior of a hireling; and the preceptors will take all the more pains with the boys, if they have from time to time to give an account of their progress. Hence the propriety of that remark of the groom, that nothing fats the horse so much as the king's eye.

And especial attention, in my opinion, must be paid to cultivating and exercising the memory of boys, for memory is, as it were, the storehouse of learning; and that was why they fabled Mnemosyne to be the mother of the Muses, hinting and insinuating that nothing so generates and contributes to the growth of learning as memory. And therefore the memory must be cultivated, whether boys have a

good one by nature, or a bad one. For we shall so add to natural good parts, and make up somewhat for natural deficiencies, so that the deficient will be better than others, and the clever will outstrip themselves. For good is that remark of Hesiod, "If to a little you keep adding a little, and do so frequently, it will soon be a lot.” And let not fathers forget, that thus cultivating the memory is not only good for education, but is also a great aid in the business of life. For the remembrance of past actions gives a good model how to deal wisely in future ones.

II. We must also keep our sons from filthy language. For, as Democritus says, language is the shadow of action. They must also be taught to be affable and courteous. For as want of affability is justly hateful, so boys will not be disagreeable to those they associate with, if they yield occasionally in disputes. For it is not only excellent to know how to conquer, but also to know how to be defeated, when victory would be injurious, for there is such a thing as a Cadmean victory. I can cite wise Euripides as a witness of the truth of what I say, who says, “ When two are talking, and one of them is in a passion, he is the wiser who first gives way."

I will next state something quite as important, indeed, if anything, even more important. That is, that life must be spent without luxury, the tongue must be under control, so must the temper and the hands. All this is of extreme importance, as I will show by examples. To begin with the last case, some who have put their hands to unjust gains, have lost all the fruits of their former life, as the Lacedæmonian Gylippus, who was exiled from Sparta for embezzling the public money. To be able to govern the temper also argues a wise man. For Socrates, when a very impudent and disgusting young fellow kicked him on one occasion, seeing all the rest of his class vexed and impatient,

even to the point of wanting to prosecute the young man, said, “What! If a young ass kicked me would you have me kick it back?” Not that the young fellow committed this outrage on Socrates with impunity, for as all reviled him and nicknamed him the kicker, he hung himself. And when Aristophanes brought his “ Clouds" on the stage, and bespattered Socrates with his gibes and flouts, and one of the spectators said, “ Aren't you vexed, Socrates, at his exhibiting you on the stage in this comic light?” he answered, “Not I, by Zeus, for I look upon the theater as only a large supper party.” Very similar to this was the behavior of Archytas of Tarentum and Plato. The former, on his return from war, where he had been general, finding his land neglected, called his bailiff, and said to him, “ You would have caught it, had I not been very angry.” And Plato, very angry with a gluttonous and shameless slave, called his sister's son Speusippus, and said, “Go and beat him, for I am too angry."

But some one will say, these examples are difficult and hard to follow. I know it. But we must try, as far as possible, following these examples, to avoid ungovernable and mad rage.

For we cannot in other respects equal those distinguished men in their ability and virtue, nevertheless we must, like initiating priests of the gods and torchbearers of wisdom, attempt as far as possible to imitate and nibble at their practice.

Then, again, if any one thinks it a small and unimportant matter to govern the tongue, another point I promised to touch on, he is very far from the reality. For silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech. And that is, I think, the reason why the ancients instituted the mysteries that we, learning therein to be silent, might transfer our secrecy from the gods to human affairs. And no one ever yet repented of his silence, while multitudes have

repented of their speaking. And what has not been said is easy to say, while what has been once said can never be recalled. I have heard of myriads who have fallen into the greatest misfortunes through inability to govern their tongues.

Our boys must also be taught to speak the truth as a most sacred duty; for to lie is servile, and most hateful in all men, hardly to be pardoned even in poor slaves.

12. And now, as I have spoken about the good and decent behavior of boys, I shall change my subject and speak a little about youths. For I have often censured the introducers of bad habits, who have set over boys pedagogues and preceptors, but have given to youths full liberty, when they ought, on the contrary, to have watched and guarded them more than boys. For who does not know that the offenses of boys are petty and easily cured, and proceed from the carelessness of tutors or want of obedience to preceptors; but the faults of young men are often grave

and serious, as gluttony, and robbing their fathers, and dice, and revelings, and drinking-bouts, and licentiousness. Such outbreaks ought to be carefully checked and curbed. For that prime of life is prodigal in pleasure, and frisky, and needs a bridle, so that those parents who do not strongly check that period, are foolishly, if unawares, giving their youths license for vice. Sensible parents, therefore, ought during all that period to guard and watch and restrain their youths, by precepts, by threats, by entreaties, by advice, by promises, by citing examples, on the one hand of those who have come to ruin by being too fond of pleasure, on the other hand, of those who by their self-control have attained to praise and good report. For these are, as it were, the two elements of virtue, hope of honor, and fear of punishment; the former inciting to good practices, the latter deterring from bad.

13. We ought, at all hazards, to keep our boys also

from association with bad men, for they will catch some of their villainy. This was the meaning of Pythagoras' enigmatical precepts, which I shall quote and explain, as they give no slight momentum towards the acquisition of virtue: as, Do not touch black tails: that is, do not associate with bad men.

Do not go beyond the balance: that is, we must pay the greatest attention to justice and not go beyond it. Do not sit on a measure: that is, do not be lazy, but earn to-morrow's bread as well as to-day's. Do not give every one your right hand: that is, do not be too ready to strike up a friendship. Do not wear a tight ring: that is, let your life be free, do not bind yourself by a chain. Do not poke the fire with a sword: that is, do not provoke an angry person, but yield to such. Do not eat the heart: do not wear away the heart by anxiety. Abstain from beans: that is, do not meddle in state affairs, for the voting for offices was formerly taken by beans. Do not put your food in the mire: that is, do not throw your pearls before swine, for words are the food of the mind, and the villainy of men twist them to a corrupt meaning. When you have ·come to the end of a journey do not look back: that is, when people are going to die and see that their end is near, they ought to take it easily and not be dejected. But I will return from my digression. We must keep our boys, as I said, from association with all bad men, but especially from flatterers. For, as I have often said to parents, and still say, and will constantly affirm, there is no race more pestilential, nor more sure to ruin youths swiftly, than the race of flatterers, who destroy both parents and sons root and branch, making the old age of the one and the youth of the other miserable, holding out pleasure as a sure bait. The sons of the rich are by their fathers urged to be sober, but by them to be drunk; by their fathers to be chaste, by them to wax wanton; by their fathers to save, by them to spend; by their fathers

« PredošláPokračovať »