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author's “ History of Education," or to any other of the excellent educational histories now on the market. It is hoped that the present work will be found an acceptable and useful volume supplementary to them all.
The successive topics discussed in each selection are given in the index under the author's name. This arrangement shows at a glance the scope of the selections. As will be seen, there is scarcely any important phase of education that has not received consideration.
F. V. N. PAINTER.
(For analysis of each author, see Index)
GREAT PEDAGOGICAL ESSAYS.
Plato is the earliest of the Greek philosophers whose writings have been transmitted to us. Unlike his great pupil Aristotle, he was a speculative philosopher who sought behind the changing phenomena of nature the absolute and eternal. His thoughts are often astonishingly profound, and he has exerted a far-reaching influence upon the Fathers of the Church and upon the mystics of mediæval and modern times. “Out of Plato,” says Emerson in his “Representative Men," "come all things that are still written and debated among men of thought. Great havoc makes he with our originalities.”
Unlike his distinguished teacher Socrates, who sprang from the artisan class, Plato descended from a noble family; on his mother's side he was related to Solon, and on his father's side to Codrus, one of the ancient kings of Athens. Perhaps it was the influence of his descent and early training that made him aristocratic in his sympathies. When he came to theorize about an ideal “Republic,” he placed the government in the hands of an aristocratic class.
Plato was born in Athens about 427 B. C., and no doubt received the best education in gymnastics and music that his native city afforded. His imaginative intellect first turned
him to poetry, in which he probably might have achieved distinction; but at the age of twenty he came under the influence of Socrates, and henceforth devoted his great powers to philosophy. He spent some years in travel. He resided for a time with Euclid at Megara; he visited Italy, where he came under the influence of the Pythagorean school of philosophy. In 386 B. C., in the full maturity of manhood and with a mind richly stored with learning, he began to teach philosophy in the Academy at Athens. For nearly half a century he lectured to a circle of disciples drawn not only from his native city but also from distant parts of Greece.
It was during this long period of philosophizing and teaching that his series of famous dialogues was produced. Among them may be mentioned “Protagoras,” or the Socratic doctrine of virtue; “ Timæus,” or concerning the origin and nature of the world; “ Phædo,” or concerning the immortality of the soul; the “Republic,” or concerning the state that realizes justice; and the “ Laws," which deals with the state, but is less speculative than the “Republic.” In three of these writings — “Protagoras," the “Republic” and the “ Laws ” — he discusses education; in the first briefly, and in the last two elaborately. In the “Republic ” his views are purely speculative and Utopian; in the “ Laws,” which was written in his old age, and which may be regarded as representing his most matured views, he is more practical. He remains in closer sympathy with the prevailing system at Athens, though here and there he gives us interesting glimpses of education in Egypt and Sparta. The following selection is from Book VII. of the “ Laws,” the translation being that of Bohn's Classical Library. It treats of gymnastics and of music, the two main branches of Athenian education.