Monday, May 18, 2015


How to Behave in Class

Plutarch, On Listening to Lectures 13 (= Moralia 45 c-d; tr. Frank Cole Babbitt):
Finally, the following matters, even with speakers who make a complete failure, are, as it were, general and common requirements at every lecture: to sit upright without any lounging or sprawling, to look directly at the speaker, to maintain a pose of active attention, and a sedateness of countenance free from any expression, not merely of arrogance or displeasure, but even of other thoughts and preoccupations....And so in the particular case of a lecture, not only frowning, a sour face, a roving glance, twisting the body about, and crossing the legs, are unbecoming, but even nodding, whispering to another, smiling, sleepy yawns, bowing down the head, and all like actions, are culpable and need to be carefully avoided.

ἐκεῖνα μὲν γὰρ ἤδη καὶ πρὸς τοὺς ὅλως ἀποτυγχάνοντας ὥσπερ ἐγκύκλια καὶ κοινὰ πάσης ἀκροάσεώς ἐστι, καθέδρα τέ τις ἄθρυπτος καὶ ἀκλινὴς ἐν ὀρθῷ σχήματι καὶ πρόσβλεψις αὐτῷ τῷ λέγοντι καὶ τάξις ἐνεργοῦ προσοχῆς, καὶ προσώπου κατάστασις καθαρὰ καὶ ἀνέμφαντος οὐχ ὕβρεως οὐδὲ δυσκολίας μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ φροντίδων ἄλλων καὶ ἀσχολιῶν....ὥσπερ ἐπ᾿ αὐτῆς τῆς ἀκροάσεως οὐ μόνον βαρύτης ἐπισκυνίου καὶ ἀηδία προσώπου καὶ βλέμμα ῥεμβῶδες καὶ περίκλασις σώματος καὶ μηρῶν ἐπάλλαξις ἀπρεπὴς ἀλλὰ καὶ νεῦμα καὶ ψιθυρισμὸς πρὸς ἕτερον καὶ μειδίαμα χάσμαι τε ὑπνώδεις καὶ κατήφειαι καὶ πᾶν εἴ τι τούτοις ἔοικεν ὑπεύθυνόν ἐστι καὶ δεῖται πολλῆς εὐλαβείας.

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