Reciting the Aeneid as Punishment

Maximilian LaBorde, History of the South Carolina College:

“With the mention of one case of discipline, I shall close the account of the year. The penalty was peculiar. This morning, at our Faculty meeting, we had just such a case, and were puzzled what to do. Oh! that I had known the precedent; but it was not until to-night that I made the discovery. Let me say that our law declares that no student shall leave the bounds of Columbia without the permission of the President. But what are laws without a penalty? What punishment shall be inflicted for its violation? That was the question which vexed us this morning. Here, then, is a precedent which may serve us as a guide in all future times. A student was charged with being absent from the Town without permission. He confessed the fact, and the Faculty determined to punish him with severity. It was therefore resolved unanimously, ‘that he be required to construe and commit to memory twenty lines of Virgil’s Aeneid, and not be seen out of the Campus until he had done so.’


I must call attention again to the infliction of a singular penalty by the Faculty, which I had occasion to notice on a former occasion. Perhaps it worked well when first applied, and the Faculty, taking encouragement, determined to avail themselves more freely of it. Two students ‘were discovered shooting guns at the back of the Town,’ and were called up, seriously admonished, and ‘required each to get fifty lines of Virgil’s Aeneid by heart, and to repeat them to the Faculty at their next meeting on Monday next.'”

Painting Wicar Virgil Reading Aeneid

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