9 November 2012

Ode to Later Learners

oldbooksDio of Prusa’s 18th Discourse begins with this eulogy to a statesman, seeking to further his education. I dedicate its reproduction here to all later learners, and especially to my father, a septuagenarian learner at Edinburgh.

Although I had often praised your character as that of a good man who is worthy to be first among the best, yet I never admired it before as I do now. For that a man in the very prime of life and second to no one in influence, who possesses great wealth and has every opportunity to live in luxury by day and night, should in spite of all this reach out for education also and be eager to acquire training in eloquent speaking, and should display no hesitation even if it should cost toil, seems to me to give proof of an extraordinarily noble soul and one not only ambitious, but in very truth devoted to wisdom. And for that matter the best of the ancients said that they went on learning not only in the prime of life but also as they grew old.