Saturday, May 17, 2008

πάλιν εἰς πᾶσαν παιδείαν ἀνηκέτω.

Let it come back into every education.

Xenophon's Cyropaedia frames the life of the Persian king with a discussion of the education of Persian boys. According to Xenophon, the emphasis of the Persian education system was on justice. Boys spent long hours training in the art of judgement, participating in trials of sorts in which they brought one another up on various charges. But one particular charge leaps out, perhaps a testament to the erosion of certain values in today's culture.

Xenophon Cyropaedia

δικάζουσι δὲ καὶ ἐγκλήματος οὗ ἕνεκα ἄνθρωποι μισοῦσι μὲν ἀλλήλους
μάλιστα, δικάζονται δὲ ἥκιστα, ἀχαριστίας, καὶ ὃν ἂν γνῶσι
δυνάμενον μὲν χάριν ἀποδιδόναι, μὴ ἀποδιδόντα δέ, κολάζουσι
καὶ τοῦτον ἰσχυρῶς. οἴονται γὰρ τοὺς ἀχαρίστους
καὶ περὶ θεοὺς ἂν μάλιστα ἀμελῶς ἔχειν καὶ περὶ γονέας
καὶ πατρίδα καὶ φίλους. ἕπεσθαι δὲ δοκεῖ μάλιστα τῇ
ἀχαριστίᾳ ἡ ἀναισχυντία.

They bring [others] to trial on a charge, one for the sake of which men hate one another most of all, but are the least prosecuted, that of ingratitude; and he whom they know capable of returning a favor, and yet is not returning it, they punish this man strongly. For they believe that ungrateful men live their lives neglectful of the gods and parents and homeland and friends. It seemed, most of all, that shamefulness followed on the heels of ingratitude.

Gratitude is sorely neglected as a virtue these days. As a student, I can recognize the enormous debts I've piled up to certain individuals in my academic career, and yet, the chances to recognize them are all too few. Today, at least, I can discharge one such debt. Strangely enough, Brad DeLong was directly responsible for my introduction to blog reading, and in turn, to participation in this sphere. He was also kind enough to cite my fledgling blog yesterday, and greatly add to the trickle of readers coming this way. So do me (and yourself) a favor, and check out his latest amusing not-quite-ancient dialogue.

Thanks Professor DeLong.

1 comment:

Roy said...

I think you might actually be understating DeLong's influence. His class apppears to have transformed you from a person who never read the daily newspaper to economics/politics news addict. The change is quite startling, in a nice way.