Humankind’s Slow Upbringing and What Fathers See

Plutarch, On Affection for Offspring 496e-497a

“The one who planted grapes at the spring equinox harvests them in the fall; he sowed wheat when the Pleaides were setting and reaped them as they rose. Cows, horses, and birds bear young who are already useful—but humankind’s offspring grows slowly and with much toil; our excellence is far away and most fathers die before we attain it.

Neokles did not see Themistokles’ Salamis; Miltiades’ did not witness Cimon’s Eurymedon; Xanthippus never heard Perikles addressing the people nor did Aristôn hear Plato’s philosophy. The fathers of Euripides and Sophokles did not know the victories of their sons. But they did hear their lisping and their first syllables; and they saw their parties, and drinking, and crazy loves—whatever kind of nonsense young men pursue…”

ἀμπελῶν᾿ ἰσημερίας ἐαρινῆς σκάψας μετοπωρινῆς ἐτρύγησε, πυρὸν ἔσπειρε δυομένης Πλειάδος εἶτ᾿ ἀνατελλούσης θερίζει, βόες καὶ ἵπποι καὶ ὄρνιθες ἕτοιμα τίκτουσιν ἐπὶ τὰς χρείας· ἀνθρώπου δ᾿ ἡ μὲν ἐκτροφὴ πολύπονος ἡ δ᾿ αὔξησις βραδεῖα, τῆς δ᾿ ἀρετῆς μακρὰν οὔσης προαποθνήσκουσιν οἱ πλεῖστοι πατέρες. οὐκ ἐπεῖδε τὴν Σαλαμῖνα Νεοκλῆς τὴν Θεμιστοκλέους οὐδὲ τὸν Εὐρυμέδοντα Μιλτιάδης τὸν Κίμωνος, οὐδ᾿ ἤκουσε Περικλέους Ξάνθιππος δημηγοροῦντος οὐδ᾿ Ἀρίστων Πλάτωνος φιλοσοφοῦντος, οὐδ᾿ Εὐριπίδου καὶ Σοφοκλέους νίκας οἱ πατέρες ἔγνωσαν· ψελλιζόντων καὶ συλλαβιζόντων ἠκροῶντο καὶ κώμους καὶ πότους καὶ ἔρωτας αὐτῶν οἷα νέοι πλημμελούντων ἐπεῖδον…

Plutarch, On the Education of Children 20

“Once I add a few more things, I will complete my proposals. Beyond all other things, it is necessary that fathers, by avoiding transgressions and doing everything that is required, offer themselves as a clear example to their children, so that when looking at their father’s life as if in a mirror they may turn away from shameful deeds and words. Whoever makes the same mistakes as those for which they punish their sons become their own accusers under their sons’ names without realizing it . Men who live life poorly in every way do not possess the right to criticize their slaves, much less their sons. In addition, they could become their sons’ advisers and teachers of crime. For whenever old men behave shamefully, it is by necessity that their young are the most shameless.”

Βραχέα δὲ προσθεὶς ἔτι περιγράψω τὰς ὑποθήκας. πρὸ πάντων γὰρ δεῖ τοὺς πατέρας τῷ μηδὲν ἁμαρτάνειν ἀλλὰ πάνθ’ ἃ δεῖ πράττειν ἐναργὲς αὑτοὺς παράδειγμα τοῖς τέκνοις παρέχειν, ἵνα πρὸς τὸν τούτων βίον ὥσπερ κάτοπτρον ἀποβλέποντες ἀποτρέπωνται τῶν αἰσχρῶν ἔργων καὶ λόγων. ὡς οἵτινες τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσιν υἱοῖς ἐπιτιμῶντες τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἁμαρτήμασι περιπίπτουσιν, ἐπὶ τῷ ἐκείνων ὀνόματι λανθάνουσιν ἑαυτῶν κατήγοροι γιγνόμενοι• τὸ δ’ ὅλον φαύλως ζῶντες οὐδὲ τοῖς δούλοις παρρησίαν ἄγουσιν ἐπιτιμᾶν, μή τί γε τοῖς υἱοῖς. χωρὶς δὲ τούτων γένοιντ’ ἂν αὐτοῖς τῶν ἀδικημάτων σύμβουλοι καὶ διδάσκαλοι. ὅπου γὰρ γέροντές εἰσιν ἀναίσχυντοι, ἐνταῦθ’ ἀνάγκη καὶ νέους ἀναιδεστάτους εἶναι.

Euripides, Supp. 1101-2

“Nothing is sweeter to an old father than a daughter”

πατρὶ δ᾽ οὐδὲν †ἥδιον†

γέροντι θυγατρός

Image result for medieval manuscript fathers

Leave a Reply