Greek Fondness for Birds

John Ruskin, Praeterita:

“And at last, because I was so fond of the Doctor, and he had the reputation (in Walworth) of being a good scholar, my father thought he might pleasantly initiate me in Greek, such initiation having been already too long deferred. The Doctor, it afterwards turned out, knew little more of Greek than the letters, and declensions of nouns; but he wrote the letters prettily, and had an accurate and sensitive ear for rhythm. He began me with the odes of Anacreon, and made me scan both them and my Virgil thoroughly, sometimes, by way of interlude, reciting bits of Shakespeare to me with force and propriety. The Anacreontic metre entirely pleased me, nor less the Anacreontic sentiment. I learned half the odes by heart merely to please myself, and learned with certainty, what in later study of Greek art it has proved extremely advantageous to me to know, that the Greeks liked doves, swallows, and roses just as well as I did.”

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