Greek Philosopher Plutarch On Untried And Untested Teachers

Ancient Greek Philosophers are in good training is the source and root of gentlemanly behaviour.

I am reading a 1898 translation from Greek of “Plutarch’s Morals” (Moralia) written in the first century AD. Seems little has changed since ancient Greece.

He asks why we would subject our children to, “untried and untested men”.

This phrase says so much. People who have produced or built very little tangible product or reality seem to have more voice and teaching than they should.

“The schoolmasters we ought to select for our boys should be of blameless life, of pure character, and of great experience. For a good training is the source and root of gentlemanly behaviour. And just as farmers prop up their trees, so good schoolmasters prop up the young by good advice and suggestions, that they may become upright. How one must despise, therefore, some fathers, who, whether from ignorance or inexperience, before putting the intended teachers to the test, commit their sons to the charge of untried and untested men…….Were they not then wise words that the time-honoured Socrates used to utter, and say that he would proclaim, if he could, climbing up to the highest part of the city, “Men, what can you be thinking of, who move heaven and earth to make money, while you bestow next to no attention on the sons you are going to leave that money to?…..
Many persons also are so niggardly about their children, and indifferent to their interests, that for the sake of a paltry saving, they prefer worthless teachers for their children, practising a vile economy at the expense of their children’s ignorance. Apropos of this, Aristippus on one occasion rebuked an empty-headed parent neatly and wittily. For being asked how much money a parent ought to pay for his son’s education, he answered, “A thousand drachmæ.” And he replying, “Hercules, what a price! I could buy a slave for as much;” Aristippus answered, “You shall have two slaves then, your son and the slave you buy.”

“….our sons must be kept as far as possible from vulgar twaddle. For what pleases the vulgar displeases the wise. I am borne out by the lines of Euripides, “Unskilled am I in the oratory that pleases the mob; but amongst the few that are my equals I am reckoned rather wise. For those who are little thought of by the wise, seem to hit the taste of the vulgar.”

– Plutarch, a Greek philosopher, biographer and essayist, born in 46 AD in Chaeronea, Boeotia, and died at the age of 74m 120 AD in Delphi. He became a Roman citizen, and was the contemporary of such prominent historical Roman figures as Trajan, Tacitus, Hadrian, Pliny. He studied mathematics and philosophy at the Academy of Athens under Ammonius from 66 to 67.

Plutarch was initiated into the mysteries of the Greek god Apollo, and was a long time (for 30 years until his death) priest, one of two, at the temple of Apollo at Delphi which housed Oracle of Delphi.

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