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Plutarch’s Moralia

κοινῇ χρήσιμον εἶναι τὴν ἀγωγήν· εἰ δέ τινες ἐνδεῶς τοῖς ἰδίοις πράττοντες ἀδυνατήσουσι τοῖς ἐμοῖς χρῆσθαι παραγγέλμασι, τὴν τύχην αἰτιάσθωσαν, οὐ τὸν ταῦτα συμβουλεύοντα. πειρατέον μὲν οὖν εἰς δύναμιν τὴν κρατίστην ἀγωγὴν ποιεῖσθαι τῶν παίδων καὶ τοῖς πένησιν· εἰ δὲ μή, τῇ γε δυνατῇ Fχρηστέον. καὶ ταῦτα μὲν δὴ τῷ λόγῳ παρεφορτισάμην, ἵν᾿ ἐφεξῆς καὶ τἄλλα τὰ φέροντα πρὸς τὴν ὀρθὴν τῶν νέων ἀγωγὴν συνάψω.

12. Κἀκεῖνό φημι, δεῖν τοὺς παῖδας ἐπὶ τὰ καλὰ τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων ἄγειν παραινέσεσι καὶ λόγοις, μὴ μὰ Δία πληγαῖς μηδ᾿ αἰκισμοῖς. δοκεῖ γάρ που ταῦτα τοῖς δούλοις μᾶλλον ἢ τοῖς ἐλευθέροις πρέπειν· ἀποναρκῶσι γὰρ καὶ φρίττουσι πρὸς τοὺς πόνους, τὰ μὲν διὰ τὰς ἀλγηδόνας τῶν πληγῶν, τὰ δὲ καὶ διὰ τὰς ὕβρεις. ἔπαινοι δὲ καὶ ψόγοι πάσης 9εἰσὶν αἰκίας ὠφελιμώτεροι τοῖς ἐλευθέροις, οἱ μὲν ἐπὶ τὰ καλὰ παρορμῶντες οἱ δ᾿ ἀπὸ τῶν αἰσχρῶν ἀνείργοντες.

Δεῖ δ᾿ ἐναλλὰξ καὶ ποικίλως χρῆσθαι ταῖς ἐπιπλήξεσι καὶ τοῖς ἐπαίνοις, κἀπειδάν ποτε θρασύνωνται,1, ταῖς ἐπιπλήξεσιν ἐν αἰσχύνῃ ποιεῖσθαι, καὶ πάλιν ἀνακαλεῖσθαι τοῖς ἐπαίνοις καὶ μιμεῖσθαι τὰς τίτθας, αἵτινες ἐπειδὰν τὰ παιδία κλαυθμυρίσωσιν, εἰς παρηγορίαν πάλιν τὸν μαστὸν ὑπέχουσι. δεῖ δ᾿ αὐτοὺς μηδὲ τοῖς ἐγκωμίοις ἐπαίρειν καὶ φυσᾶν· χαυνοῦνται γὰρ ταῖς ὑπερβολαῖς τῶν ἐπαίνων καὶ θρύπτονται.

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The Education of Children

education should be generally useful; but if some, being needy in their private circumstances, shall be unable to avail themselves of my directions, let them lay the blame therefor upon fortune and not upon him who gives this counsel. Even the poor must endeavour, as well as they can, to provide the best education for their children, but, if that be impossible, then they must avail themselves of that which is within their means. I have burdened the discussion with this minor matter so as to connect therewith in due order the other topics which tend toward the right education of the young.

12. This also I assert, that children ought to be led to honourable practices by means of encouragement and reasoning, and most certainly not by blows or ill-treatment, for it surely is agreed that these are fitting rather for slaves than for the free-born; for so they grow numb and shudder at their tasks, partly from the pain of the blows, partly from the degradation. Praise and reproof are more helpful for the free-born than any sort of ill-usage, since the praise incites them toward what is honourable, and reproof keeps them from what is disgraceful.

But rebukes and praise should be used alternately and in a variety of ways; it is well to choose some time when the children are full of confidence to put them to shame by rebuke, and then in turn to cheer them up by praises, and to imitate the nurses, who, when they have made their babies cry, in turn offer them the breast for comfort. Moreover in praising them it is essential not to excite and puff them up, for they are made conceited and spoiled by excess of praise.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_education_children.1927