Friday, January 30, 2015


Train Up a Child

Claudian, Panegyric on the Third Consulship of Honorius 39-50 (tr. Maurice Platnauer):
Soon when thou couldst stand upright and walk with firm step thy sire forbade thee enervating sloth, luxurious ease, time-wasting slumbers. He strengthened thy young limbs with hard toils and rude was the training wherewith he exercised thy tender powers. Thou wert taught to bear winter's cruel cold, to shrink not before storm and tempest, to face the heat of summer, to swim across loud-roaring torrents, to climb mountains, to run o'er the plain, to leap ravines and hollows, to spend sleepless nights of watching under arms, to drink melted snow from thy casque, to shoot the arrow from the bow or hurl the acorn-missiles with a Balearic sling.

Mox ubi firmasti recto vestigia gressu,
non tibi desidias molles nec marcida luxu        40
otia nec somnos genitor permisit inertes,
sed nova per duros instruxit membra labores
et cruda teneras exercuit indole vires:
frigora saeva pati, gravibus non cedere nimbis,
aestivum tolerare iubar, transnare sonoras        45
torrentum furias, ascensu vincere montes,
planitiem cursu, valles et concava saltu,
nec non in clipeo vigiles producere noctes,
in galea potare nives, nunc spicula cornu
tendere, nunc glandes Baleari spargere funda.        50
Honorius was only ten years old at the time of his third consulship. Commenting on these lines, Alan Cameron, Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 40-41, points out:
In fact, of course, Honorius is a sad but classic example of an heir to the throne corrupted and demoralized by the stifling atmosphere of a palace education. Court eunuchs are a poor substitute for a mother who died when he was only one, and a father continually absent on campaigns.
For the idea, cf. Horace, Odes 3.2.1-3 (tr. Niall Rudd):
A youngster should be toughened by the rigours of a soldier's life, and learn how to put up with the constraints of poverty cheerfully.

Angustam amice pauperiem pati
robustus acri militia puer

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