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Xenophon, the Greek historian and essayist, was born at Athens about 430 B.C. Early in life he came under the influence of Socrates, to whom, in the “Memorabilia,” he pays an affectionate tribute. This work shows that it was the moral and practical teachings of the philosopher, rather than his metaphysical speculations, that made a deep impression on the disciple.
In 401 B.C. Xenophon joined the expedition of the younger Cyrus against his brother Artaxerxes II. of Persia. After the battle of Cunaxa, in which Cyrus was killed, Xenophon directed the retreat of the Greeks, of which he has left a detailed account in his “ Anabasis.” It was chiefly due to his courage and skill that the Grecian force, after numerous dangers and hardships, finally made its escape.
After his return to Greece, Xenophon made his home in Sparta. He admired the institutions of that country, and had his children educated under the Spartan system. While living in retirement near Olympia he wrote his principal works. His “ Cyropædia," from which the first of the following selections is taken, is a historical romance rather than sober history. Xenophon uses the Persian king to illustrate his own views of education, which do not essentially differ from the system of Sparta.
In his “Economics," which treats of the management of the household and farm, Xenophon presents a pleasing picture of the Greek wife and of her domestic duties. Un
like his “ Cyropædia,” it is Athenian in spirit, and limits the sphere of woman to domestic duties. It is from this work, which clearly brings before us the education of Athenian women, that the second selection is taken.
1. Cyrus is said to have had for his father Cambyses, king of the Persians. Cambyses was of the race of Perseidæ, who were so called from Perseus. It is agreed that he was born of a mother named Mandane; and Mandane was the daughter of Astyages, king of the Medes. Cyrus is described, and is still celebrated by the Barbarians, as having been most handsome in person, most humane in disposition, most eager for knowledge, and most ambitious of honor; so that he would undergo any labor and face any danger for the sake of obtaining praise. 2. Such is the constitution of mind and body that he is recorded to have had; and he was educated in conformity with the laws of the Persians.
These laws seem to begin with a provident care for the common good; not where they begin in most other governments; for most governments, leaving each individual to educate his children as he pleases, and the advanced in age to live as they please, enjoin their people not to steal, not to plunder, not to enter a house by violence, not to strike any one whom it is wrong to strike, not to be adulterous, not to disobey the magistrates, and other such things in like manner; and, if people transgress any of these precepts, they impose punishments upon them. 3. But the Persian laws, by anticipation, are careful to provide from the beginning, that their citizens shall not
be such as to be inclined to any action that is bad and mean. This care they take in the following manner. They have an Agora, called the Free, where the king's palace and other houses for magistrates are built; all things for sale, and the dealers in them, their cries and coarsenesses, are banished from hence to some other place; that the disorder of these may not interfere with the regularity of those who are under instruction. 4. This Agora, round the public courts, is divided into four parts; of these, one is for the boys, one for the youth, one for the full-grown men, and one for those who are beyond the years for military service. Each of these divisions, according to the law, attend in their several quarters; the boys and fullgrown men as soon as it is day; the elders when they think convenient, except upon appointed days, when they are obliged to be present. The youth pass the night round the courts, in their light arms, except such as are married; for these are not required to do so, unless orders have been previously given them; nor is it becoming in them to be often absent. 5.' Over each of the classes there are twelve presidents, for there are twelve distinct tribes of the Persians. Those over the boys are chosen from amongst the elders, and are such as are thought likely to make them the best boys; those over the youth are chosen from amongst the full-grown men, and are such as are thought likely to make them the best youth ; and over the full-grown men, such as are thought likely to render them the most expert in performing their appointed duties, and in executing the orders given by the chief magistrate. There are likewise chosen presidents over the elders, who take care that these also perform their duties. What it is prescribed to each age to do, we shall relate, that it may be the better understood how the Persians take precautions that excellent citizens may be produced.
6. The boys attending the public schools, pass their time in learning justice; and say that they go for this purpose, as those with us say who go to learn to read. Their presidents spend the most part of the day in dispensing justice amongst them; for there are among the boys, as among the men, accusations for theft, robbery, violence, deceit, calumny, and other such things as naturally occur; and such as they convict of doing wrong, in any of these respects, they punish. 7. They punish likewise, such as they find guilty of false accusation; they appeal to justice also in the case of a crime for which men hate one another excessively, but for which they never go to law, that is, ingratitude; and whomsoever they find able to return a benefit, and not returning it, they punish severely. For they think that the ungrateful are careless with regard to the gods, their parents, their country, and their friends; and upon ingratitude seems closely to follow shamelessness, which appears to be the principal conductor of mankind into all that is dishonorable.
8. They also teach the boys self-control; and it contributes much towards their learning to control themselves, that they see every day their elders behaving themselves with discretion. They teach them also to obey their officers; and it contributes much to this end, that they see their elders constantly obedient to their officers. They teach them temperance with respect to eating and drinking; and it contributes much to this object, that they see that their elders do not quit their stations to satisfy their appetites, until their officers dismiss them, and that the boys themselves do not eat with their mothers, but with their teachers, and when the officers give the signal. They bring from home with them bread, and a sort of cresses to eat with it; and a cup to drink from, that, if any are thirsty, they may take water from the river. They learn,
besides, to shoot with the bow, and to throw the javelin. These exercises the boys practice until they are sixteen or seventeen years of age, when they enter the class of young men.
9. The young men pass their time thus: For ten years after they go from the class of boys, they pass the night round the courts, as I have said before, both for the security and guard of the city, and for the sake of practicing self-restraint; for this age seems most to need superintendence. During the day they keep themselves at the command of their officers, in case they want them for any public service; and when it is necessary they all wait at the courts. But whenever the king goes out to hunt, he takes half the guard out with him, and leaves half of it behind; and this he does several times every month. Those that go out must have their bow, with a quiver, a bill or small sword in a sheath, a light shield, and two javelins, one to throw, and the other, if necessary, to use at hand. 10. They attend to hunting as a matter of public interest, and the king, as in war, is their leader, hunting himself, and seeing that others do so; because it seems to them to be the most efficient exercise for all such things as relate to war. It accustoms them to rise early in the morning, and to bear heat and cold; it exercises them in long marches, and in running; it necessitates them to use their bow against the beast that they hunt, and to throw their javelin, wherever he falls in their way, their courage must, of necessity, be often sharpened in the hunt, when any of the strong and vigorous beasts present themselves; for they must come to blows with the animal if he comes up to them, and must be upon their guard as he approaches; so that it is not easy to find what single thing, of all that is practiced in war, is not to be found in hunting. II. They go out to hunt provided with a dinner, larger, indeed, as is but right,
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