Dio Chrysostom, Discourses 20. On Retirement

LCL 339: 254-255

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Dio Chrysostom

πλῆθος οὐδὲ ὁ θόρυβος τῶν παριόντων, ὅ τε ὀρχούμενος ὁμοίως ἢ ὀρχηστοδιδάσκαλος πρὸς τούτῳ ἐστίν, ἀμελήσας τῶν μαχομένων τε καὶ ἀποδιδομένων καὶ ἄλλα πραττόντων, ὅ τε κιθαριστὴς ὅ τε ζωγράφος· ὃ δὲ πάντων σφοδρότατόν1 ἐστιν· οἱ γὰρ τῶν γραμμάτων διδάσκαλοι μετὰ τῶν παίδων ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς κάθηνται, καὶ οὐδὲν αὐτοῖς ἐμποδών ἐστιν ἐν τοσούτῳ πλήθει 10τοῦ διδάσκειν τε καὶ μανθάνειν. ἤδη δέ ποτε εἶδον ἐγὼ ἀγὼ διὰ τοῦ ἱπποδρόμου βαδίζων πολλοὺς ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ ἀνθρώπους ἄλλο τι πράττοντας, τὸν μὲν αὐλοῦντα, τὸν δὲ ὀρχούμενον, τὸν δὲ θαῦμα ἀποδιδόμενον, τὸν δὲ ποίημα ἀναγιγνώσκοντα, τὸν δὲ ᾄδοντα, τὸν δὲ ἱστορίαν τινὰ ἢ μῦθον διηγούμενον· καὶ οὐδὲ εἷς τούτων οὐδένα ἐκώλυσε προσέχειν αὑτῷ καὶ τὸ προκείμενον πράττειν.

11Καίτοι τούτων οὐδέν ἐστι τῶν ἔργων ὃ συνάγει τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ καθίστησι καὶ καταφρονεῖν ποιεῖ τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων. παιδεία δέ, ὡς ἔοικε, καὶ φιλοσοφία, αἳ μάλιστα τοῦτο διαπράττονται, πολλῆς ἐρημίας τε καὶ ἀναχωρήσεως τυγχάνουσι δεόμεναι· καὶ ὥσπερ τοῖς νοσοῦσιν, εἰ μὴ πανταχόθεν ἐστὶ σιωπή τε καὶ ἡσυχία, οὐ δυνατὸν ὕπνου μεταλαβεῖν, οὕτως ἄρα καὶ τοῖς φιλολόγοις· εἰ μὴ πάντες ὑποσιγήσουσιν αὐτοῖς καὶ μήτε ὅραμα μηδὲν ἄλλο ἔσται μήτε ἀκούσματος ἀκούειν μηδενός, οὐκ ἄρα οἵα τε ἔσται ἡ ψυχὴ τοῖς αὑτῆς2 προσέχειν καὶ περὶ ταῦτα γίγνεσθαι.

12Ἀλλ᾿ ἔγωγε ὁρῶ καὶ τοὺς πλησίον τῆς θαλάττης


Twentieth Discourse: Retirement

does not distract him at all, nor the din made by the passers-by; and the dancer likewise, or dancing master, is engrossed in his work, being utterly heedless of those who are fighting and selling and doing other things; and so also with the harper and the painter. But here is the most extreme case of all: The elementary teachers sit in the streets with their pupils, and nothing hinders them in this great throng from teaching and learning. And I remember once seeing, while walking through the Hippodrome,1 many people on one spot and each one doing something different: one playing the flute, another dancing, another doing a juggler’s trick, another reading a poem aloud, another singing, and another telling some story or myth; and yet not a single one of them prevented anyone else from attending to his own business and doing the work that he had in hand.

However, you will object, there is none of these occupations that concentrates the mind, steadies it, and causes it to look with disdain upon all other things; and education, apparently, and philosophy, which best accomplish this, do require great seclusion and retirement; and, just as the sick, unless there is silence and quiet all about them, are unable to get any sleep, so, you see, it is with seekers after learning—unless everybody about them is quiet, and unless there is nothing distracting to be seen or heard, their mind will find it impossible to give attention to its own affairs and to concentrate on these.

Yet I for my part notice that people who live

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dio_chrysostom-discourses_20_retirement.1939