Degenerare

Tune, cum te ac tuam vitam nosses, in Siciliam tecum grandem praetextatum filium ducebas, ut, etiamsi natura puerum a paternis vitiis atque a generis similitudine abduceret, consuetudo tamen eum et disciplina degenerare non sineret? fac enim fuisse in eo C. Laelii aut M. Catonis materiem atque indolem: quid ex eo boni sperari atque effici potest, qui in patris luxurie sic vixerit ut nullum umquam pudicum neque sobrium convivium viderit, qui in epulis cotidianis adulta aetate per triennium inter impudicas mulieres et intemperantes viros versatus sit, nihil umquam audierit a patre quo pudentior aut melior esset, nihil umquam patrem facere viderit quod cum imitatus esset non, id quod turpissimum est, patris similis putaretur?
(Cicero, In Verrem 2.3.159-160)

How could you, Verres, knowing yourself and the life you lead, take with you to Sicily a young son who was no longer a child, so that, even if his natural bent tended to wean him from his father’s vices and make him unlike his family, habit and training might nevertheless keep him true to type? Suppose there had been in him the stuff and the disposition to make a Laelius or a Cato of him, what good could be hoped for, or produced from, a boy living amid his father’s debaucheries, so that he never set eyes on one decent or sober dinner-party; a boy who day by day for three years spent his adolescence feasting with unchaste women and intoxicated men, who never heard his father say anything that could make him more modest or virtuous, or do anything that he could copy without incurring the foul disgrace of being recognized as his father’s son? (tr. Leonard Hugh Graham Greenwood)

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