Prosekeimēn

Ancient Greek vase, school lesson, writing and music

Πάλιν τοίνυν τὸ μὲν παρ’ ἄνδρα πεφοιτηκέναι λόγων προχέοντα κάλλος εὐδαίμονος φοιτητοῦ, τὸ δὲ μὴ ὁπόσον ἄξιον, ἀλλ’ ὁπότε μὲν ἀφωσιούμην φοιτᾶν, κινοῦντος δὲ ἤδη πρὸς μαθήσεις ἔρωτος οὐκ ἔχειν τὸν μεταδώσοντα θανάτῳ σβεσθέντος τοῦ ῥεύματος, τουτὶ δὲ ἀθλίου. ποθῶν μὲν τοίνυν τὸν οὐκέτ’ ὄντα, χρώμενος δὲ τοῖς οὖσιν, εἰδώλοις γέ τισι σοφιστῶν, ὥσπερ οἱ τοῖς ἐκ κριθῶν ἄρτοις ἀπορίᾳ γε τοῦ βελτίονος, ἐπειδὴ ἤνυτον οὐδέν, ἀλλ’ ἦν κίνδυνος ἡγεμόσι τυφλοῖς ἑπόμενον εἰς βάραθρον ἀμαθίας πεσεῖν, τοῖς μὲν χαίρειν εἶπον, παύσας δὲ τὴν μὲν ψυχὴν τοῦ τίκτειν, τὴν δὲ γλῶτταν τοῦ λέγειν, τὴν δὲ χεῖρα τοῦ γράφειν ἓν ἔδρων μόνον, μνήμῃ τὰ τῶν παλαιῶν ἐκτώμην συνὼν ἀνδρὶ μνημονικωτάτῳ τε καὶ οἵῳ τῶν παρ’ ἐκείνοις καλῶν ἐμπείρους ἀπεργάζεσθαι νέους. καὶ οὕτω δή τι αὐτῷ προσεκείμην ἀκριβῶς, ὥστ’ οὐδ’ ἀπαλλαττομένου τῶν νέων ἀπηλλαττόμην, ἀλλὰ καὶ δι’ ἀγορᾶς ἐν χεροῖν τε ἡ βίβλος, καὶ ἔδει τι τὸν ἄνδρα καὶ πρὸς ἀνάγκην λέγειν, ἣν ἐν τῷ παραχρῆμα μὲν δῆλος ἦν δυσχεραίνων, χρόνοις δὲ ἐν ὑστέροις ἐπῄνει.
(Libanius, Bios 8)

Again, I was lucky as a pupil in that I attended the lectures of a teacher with a fine flow of oratory; my bad luck was that my attendance was not as regular as it should have been but occurred only in a most perfunctory fashion, and then, when my desire did spur me on to study, I found none to instruct me, for death had stopped his flow. So, though I longed for my dead teacher, I began to frequent the living, mere shadows of teachers, as men eat loaves of barley bread for want of anything better. However, when I found that I was making no progress but was running the risk of falling into the bottomless pit of ignorance through following blind guides, I had done with them. I restrained my mind from composing, my tongue from speaking, and my hand from writing, and I concentrated upon one thing only – the memorization of the works of classical authors – and studied under a man of prodigious memory who was capable of instilling into his pupils an appreciation of the excellence of the classics. I attached myself to him so wholeheartedly that I would not leave him even after class had been dismissed, but would trail after him, book in hand, even through the city square, and he had to give me some instruction, whether he liked it or not. At the time he was obviously annoyed at this importunity, but in later days he was full of praise for it. (tr. Albert Francis Norman)

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