“Zeno of Citium writes in his Anecdotes that after Kratês unthinkingly sewed a sheepskin to his cloak, he looked absurd and was laughed at when he exercised. He was in the habit of raising his hands and saying “Be bold, Kratês, for your eyes and your body. Someday you will see these men who laughing at you worn out by sickness and envying you, criticizing their own laziness.
He used to say that we should pursue philosophy until generals seemed to be donkey-drivers. He also claimed that those who lived with flatterers were as exposed as calves among wolves—For there is no one to protect these or those, but only those who contrive against them. When he perceived he was dying, he sang to himself, saying “you are going to Hades’ home, dear hunchback”. [For he was a hunchback because of old age.”
All across Texas (and other states, I imagine), the arrival of spring break brings teachers and students relief. For me–and some others I know–the moment is one of existential crisis as well. What does it mean to be so happy for a break?
I wonder if I will have the dedication and stamina to be like Isocrates, teaching right up to the end of my days:
“On a pillar sits a statue of Isocrates who stands out in memory for three qualities: his dedication in the fact that he never stopped accepting students even when he had lived to 98 years; his wisdom in keeping himself out of politics and from meddling in public affairs; and his sense of freedom: he was so aggrieved at the report of the battle at Chaironea that he died voluntarily.”
“Now as he shakes his head slowly the ancient plowman whispers that his great labors have amounted to nothing and when he compares his life’s work to former times he often praises the good fortunes of his father. It is sad but true: the caretaker of the shriveled vine blames the passage of time and carps about his generation, complaining how the older world so full of devotion managed to support life with much slighter means, when each man was apportioned a smaller bit of land. He does not understand that all things deteriorate over time in the approach to the journey’s end, worn out by the ancient span of years.”
iamque caput quassans grandis suspirat arator
crebrius, in cassum magnos cecidisse labores, 1165
et cum tempora temporibus praesentia confert
praeteritis, laudat fortunas saepe parentis.
tristis item vetulae vitis sator atque <vietae>
temporis incusat momen saeclumque fatigat,
et crepat, antiquum genus ut pietate repletum 1170
perfacile angustis tolerarit finibus aevom,
cum minor esset agri multo modus ante viritim;
nec tenet omnia paulatim tabescere et ire
ad capulum spatio aetatis defessa vetusto.