Monday, October 18, 2010
- Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians 2.3 (tr. E.C. Marchant): "Instead of softening the boys' feet with sandals he [Lycurgus] required them to harden their feet by going without shoes. He believed that if this habit were cultivated it would enable them to climb hills more easily and descend steep inclines with less danger, and that a youth who had accustomed himself to go barefoot would leap and jump and run more nimbly than a boy in sandals."
- Musonius Rufus, fragment 19 (tr. Cora Lutz): "Also going barefoot is better than wearing sandals, if one can do it, for wearing sandals is next to being bound, but going barefoot gives the feet great freedom and grace when they are used to it. It is for this reason that one sees couriers wearing no sandals on the highways and the runners in a contest unable to make the best speed if they have to run in sandals."
I borrowed the title of this post from James Greenleaf Whittier's poem Barefoot Boy, which ends with these lines:
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to treat the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!