Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sonnet: "A Soldier's Farewell"

The following poem was written by tenth-grade homeschool student "A.M." The photo of soldiers in the United States Army was taken in Afghanistan about a year ago. These four soldiers are home now!

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A Soldier’s Farewell

Belovéd, do not weep for me today,
Nor sigh on the morrow when I depart.
For though I am from thine eyes far away,
My thoughts dwell on thee as the battles start.
Death’s cold embrace might appear a relief
From this hellish battlefield’s roiling sand,
Yet then I dream my death writ on a leaf
And with renewed spirit protect my land.
I shirk not my duty to my country
And will strive to bring liberty to all;
When peace and hope shine through the night ‘round me,
Homeward shall my steps delightedly fall.
For one’s heartstrings in his own country lie
And calls him with more force than battle’s cry.
--Contributed by A.M.


At 3/11/2006 2:09 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

That is beautiful - tears. Tears I tell ya. Love the pic and I am so glad that those men are home safe.

Wonderful work.

At 3/11/2006 2:56 PM, Blogger Lawman said...

Beautiful!! And a very touching tribute to our men and women of the Armed Services.

Thanks for posting it.

At 3/11/2006 3:52 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

It's amazing how mature this young person is.
Very beutifull.

At 3/11/2006 5:16 PM, Anonymous GM Roper said...

All I can say is WOW!

At 3/11/2006 6:29 PM, Blogger LASunsett said...

AOW, I do not know how tough of a grader YOU are, but I say, A+. Whoever this was that wrote this outstanding piece, has the rare ability to place him/herself in the shoes of another, having never been in that same situation, personally. This kid is a thinker, and a clear one at that.

At 3/11/2006 6:57 PM, Blogger beakerkin said...

Speaking of service people my brother is back from Kuwait this week.

At 3/11/2006 9:45 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said...

That was very special. Amazingly well done. Thanks for letting me know about it.

At 3/11/2006 10:53 PM, Blogger Mike's America said...

Just when I get discouraged about the poor state of education and the low expectations we have for our young people, a pre-adult comes along to say "It's not that bad."

Thank you young one. Thank you!

At 3/12/2006 1:25 AM, Blogger Warren said...

Thank you A.M. and thank you also AOW.

Very well written. I enjoyed it much.

This brings to mind the 6th canto of, Sir Walter Scott's, "The Lay of the Last Minstrel".

Earlier in the day, I was talking to the son of my neighbor. He is home for two weeks then returns to Iraq.

At 3/12/2006 6:41 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

What kind of grader am I? A tough one, as in the adage "No assignment too large, no grade too small." Hehehe.

But A.M. got an A++ (105%) on this one.

At 3/12/2006 6:43 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Low expectations lead to inferior results.

As a contracted teacher for homeschoolers, I have high expectations, and the parents support me in those expectations.

At 3/12/2006 6:47 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

This brings to mind the 6th canto of, Sir Walter Scott's, "The Lay of the Last Minstrel".

I believe that the class read a brief excerpt from Last Minstrel. We have a portion in our literature textbook.

A.M. is quite a poet and has a lot of experience in writing verse. In fact, A.M. writes poetry "for fun."

At 3/12/2006 6:56 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Glad to hear of your brother's safe return.

I've met one of the soldiers in the picture here. He's a great guy!

At our local VFW, I regularly get together with the ambulatory wounded from Walter Reed. Good times!

At 3/12/2006 6:58 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Tears? When I read the poem to my husband, I had the same reaction.

I submitted the poem to the Carnival of Homeschooling, BTW. Also, the local VFW wants to use the poem. I'll check with A.M. on that, of course.

At 3/12/2006 8:42 AM, Blogger eyesallaround said...

Wow! Beautiful. Your students are so talented. I can't even imagine a tardo liberal coming up with something like this. Heck, I couldn't either, so I guess I shouldn't poke fun at the LLLs.

At 3/12/2006 10:15 AM, Blogger Shah Alexander said...

This is written by a soldier? No, student. It sounds as if the student were in service. This student has a good sense of imagination.

At 3/12/2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Avenging Apostate said...

Beautiful! I have no other words for it--it is simply BEAUTIFUL.

At 3/12/2006 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only a fitting and noble subject, but wonderful attention to form as well. I'd love to see more. Soon, always, you should have enough material for a really decent book of poetry... something our culture has great and desperate need of... something healthful and worthy to serve as source of inspiration for the "next generation" of poets and authors... and muse to old grasshoppers like me.

Plato, "Phaedrus"

SOCRATES: Any one may see that there is no disgrace in the mere fact of writing.

PHAEDRUS: Certainly not.

SOCRATES: The disgrace begins when a man writes not well, but badly.

PHAEDRUS: Clearly.

SOCRATES: And what is well and what is badly--need we ask Lysias, or any other poet or orator, who ever wrote or will write either a political or any other work, in metre or out of metre, poet or prose writer, to teach us this?

PHAEDRUS: Need we? For what should a man live if not for the pleasures of discourse? Surely not for the sake of bodily pleasures, which almost always have previous pain as a condition of them, and therefore are rightly
called slavish.

SOCRATES: There is time enough. And I believe that the grasshoppers chirruping after their manner in the heat of the sun over our heads are talking to one another and looking down at us. What would they say if they
saw that we, like the many, are not conversing, but slumbering at mid-day, lulled by their voices, too indolent to think? Would they not have a right to laugh at us? They might imagine that we were slaves, who, coming to rest at a place of resort of theirs, like sheep lie asleep at noon around
the well. But if they see us discoursing, and like Odysseus sailing past them, deaf to their siren voices, they may perhaps, out of respect, give us of the gifts which they receive from the gods that they may impart them to

PHAEDRUS: What gifts do you mean? I never heard of any.

SOCRATES: A lover of music like yourself ought surely to have heard the story of the grasshoppers, who are said to have been human beings in an age before the Muses. And when the Muses came and song appeared they were ravished with delight; and singing always, never thought of eating and drinking, until at last in their forgetfulness they died. And now they live again in the grasshoppers; and this is the return which the Muses make to them--they neither hunger, nor thirst, but from the hour of their birth are always singing, and never eating or drinking; and when they die they go and inform the Muses in heaven who honours them on earth. They win the love of Terpsichore for the dancers by their report of them; of Erato for the lovers, and of the other Muses for those who do them honour, according to the several ways of honouring them;--of Calliope the eldest Muse and of Urania who is next to her, for the philosophers, of whose music the grasshoppers make report to them; for these are the Muses who are chiefly concerned with heaven and thought, divine as well as human, and they have the sweetest utterance. For many reasons, then, we ought always to talk and not to sleep at mid-day.

PHAEDRUS: Let us talk.


At 3/12/2006 1:38 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

AOW..I also had the blessing of working with some homecoming troops from thank u for showing us that some kids still have a heart and conscience!

At 3/12/2006 2:16 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Avenging Apostate,
Thank you so much for stopping by! I continue to pray for your safety and for the Lord's blessings upon you.

At 3/12/2006 2:28 PM, Blogger Cubed © said...


See what I mean? HOMESCHOOLING RULES! And when is the book to be published? It will be a beautiful thing to demonstrate the damage done to our kids by governmen-run schools. All that potential wasted. . .

Congratulations, A.M. - you deserve all the compliments given to you here, and the A++!


Give your brother a big granny hug from me, please!


I was named for one of the Muses (an old family tradition) and got a certain amount of teasing about it; when I whined about the teasing, my mother used to tell me that it could have been worse, what if I'd been named "Terpsichore" instead?

Point well taken.


I'm in your camp. I have no talent whatsoever for poetry, yet it is one of the most conceptually advanced forms of communication around. I really admire it, particularly when it is seen coming from an adolescent, who has just barely kicked into the conceptual mode of thought!

At 3/12/2006 2:29 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

old grasshoppers like me

You an old grasshopper? Well, I guess that I'm one as well. LOL.

Somehow, I myself never forget to eat and drink. Hehehe.

In some ways, it is not so bad to be a grasshopper in the Socratic context, as opposed to Aesop's context, which would've been my first thought. Of the many citations you've posted, I especially like this one. Growing up surrounded by fields of alfalfa has connections to grasshoppers, especially after mowing. Seems that I'm the one musing today, huh?

Soon, always, you should have enough material for a really decent book of poetry

For the third time, this year my classes will put together a collection called Sense and Nonsense; it is primarily for class members and their parents. The collection includes both prose and poetry. I wish that we had time for more poetry-writing because that kind of writing exercises both sides of the brain. Crossing the corpus collosum has multiple benefits.

SOCRATES: The disgrace begins when a man writes not well, but badly.

Should be my class motto!

At 3/12/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I'm not very talented at writing poetry. I attribute part of that to my teachers' not exploring the art of writing verse or of writing fiction. We were stuck with essays all the time.

One secret to successful teaching is recognizing divergent gifts. Many of my students have the gift of writing verse, others the gift of writing in different genres too numerous to mention.

At 3/12/2006 2:51 PM, Blogger Esther said...

Absolutely beautiful. You have some very talented students!

At 3/12/2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Homeschooling gains adherents year by year. No wonder! Of course, homeschoolers are now educated by that method for a variety of reasons and through a variety of approaches. There is a lot of dissatisfaction with the public-education system these days; many reasons for such dissatisfaction as well.

Some years ago, being a homeschool graduate limited application to universities. Today the doors of universities have opened to homeschoolers who qualify on SAT's. And right now, Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, which has a large number of previously homeschooled in the student body, is at the top of the debate leagues; Harvard is in 24th place, last time I checked. Interesting trend.

A.M. is a fine writer in all the genres we've explored, but I think that poetry may well be A.M.'s favorite.

One secret to writing well is to read a lot; in fact, Stephen King (like him or hate him, he is one of the bestselling authors of the 20th Century) takes the position that writers cannot develop without a wide range of exposure to the printed word.

A.M. is exceptionally well read for a tenth grader. Lots of classics!

At 3/12/2006 2:55 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

A.M. captured a soldier's thoughts very well, I think. Imagination? Yes, and powers of imagination have almost no limit.

Before the students attempted their sonnets, we read many examples. I emphasize learning through modeling.

Thank you for stopping by.

At 3/12/2006 2:57 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Your first visit here? Glad that you liked this poem.

Choice of topic was wide open for this assignment. I think that this particular sonnet was the only "military" submission.

At 3/12/2006 3:01 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

I'll bet that you could write a sonnet about the courage of facing cancer. That essay you wrote about not being afraid was outstanding. I've thought a lot about what you said in that particular piece.

Fight on!

At 3/12/2006 3:01 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Glad to know that you, too, have worked with some of our returning troops.

At 3/12/2006 3:02 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

No doubt about it--I've got talented students!

At 3/12/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
It's amazing how mature this young person is.

Mature--and a serious student.

At 3/12/2006 3:04 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Iran Watch,
I thought that you, a veteran of Desert War, would like this poem. Thank you for stopping by.

At 3/12/2006 6:31 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Where do you find these prodigies, AOW? That was brilliant!

At 3/12/2006 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement and compliments. For a teenager who has only shown poetry so far to my teacher(s) and parents. It's nice to know that other people like my ideas. No book yet! Hey, and I don't like that statement, "No assignment too large, no grade too small", Always on Watch!


At 3/12/2006 11:16 PM, Blogger Pastorius said...

Another find poem by your young student, AOW.

At 3/13/2006 8:56 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Lovely! *sniff*

At 3/13/2006 10:28 PM, Blogger Bridget said...

Absolutely beautiful, such heart and feelings were poured into that, It is so nice to see those who still respect what our heroes do, God Bless Them All.

At 3/15/2006 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Contrast and compare...
w/the new standard fare...

Modern Prodigy


At 3/15/2006 8:07 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

IMO, A.M. is the better poet. No contest whatsoever!

At 3/16/2006 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. There is nothing "poetic" in jealousy, resentment, hate or fear. It is dis-chordant, un-harmonious, and de-generate.

It seems obvious to me that the poets in question have been throwing figs into the audience again.

Aristophanes, "Plutus"

WIFE. Oh! thou, who art dearest of all to me, and thou too, be welcome! Allow me, Plutus, to shower these gifts of welcome over you in due accord with custom.

PLUTUS. No. This is the first house I enter after having regained my sight; I shall take nothing from it, for 'tis my place rather to give.

WIFE. Do you refuse these gifts?

PLUTUS. I will accept them at your fireside, as custom requires. Besides, we shall thus avoid a ridiculous scene; it is not meet that the poet should throw dried figs and dainties to the spectators; 'tis a vulgar trick to make 'em laugh.

WIFE. You are right. Look! yonder's Dexinicus, who was already getting to his feet to catch the figs as they flew past him.


At 3/16/2006 8:42 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

the poets in question have been throwing figs into the audience again

A vulgar trick, indeed!

Students recently wrote type sketches. Most opted for satire, and I got some good ones, among them "The Lackadaisical Man" and "Across the Table from a Pig" (That last is not the exact title). I also got a spot-on essay about Starbucks.

The writing assignments I give are of some variety. I have a low threshhold for boredom.

At 3/16/2006 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps today is the proper time for satire. Tragedy was once the instructive that helped unite and build Athens and make it the education of Hellas, and comedy the "critical" corrective that managed to keep her on her heights for a hundred years.

And I think you'll agree that today, there's a lot of "correction" needed. Maybe that's why I'm such a big Southpark fan. It has, however, ceased being subtle (Rocky & Bullwinkle - Upsidasium mines of a "floating" Mt. Flatten) and become more Juvenalian (Southpark - Shakey's Pizza parlours constructed of embryonic stem cells) as the average level of our educational attainment has declined.

Unfortunately, most of the so-called "satire" done today is of "The Daily Show" with John Stewart "low" variety. It is indeed a double-edged sword.... especially when those being "satirized" fail to "get it"... or become imitators and critics who transform it into burlesque parody and use to de-construct the values of the very society which they could never have built.


At 3/16/2006 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and of course, the Romans simply banned all forms of "comedy" from the public stage with the exception of "mime".

And of course, no decent Roman citizen would ever dream (with the exception of an emperor) of actually becoming an actor for the stage. They were men of "action", NOT "imitation".


At 3/17/2006 9:20 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

especially when those being "satirized" fail to "get it"... or become imitators and critics who transform it into burlesque parody and use to de-construct the values of the very society which they could never have built.

Remember the TV show Laugh In? Some effective satire, some not. For a time, Laugh In enjoyed some revival on cable-TV's TV Land. I watched a few of the re-broadcasts, which didn't take me back to a better time.

What do you think was the underlying reason for Rome's outlawing comedy?

At 3/17/2006 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It provided a "public" forum equivalent to the MSM of today for criticism of the "regime" and turning Rome's "leading figure's" into "dwarves". When you see your neighbor publically LAUGHING at the regime and it's leaders, you begin believe it is right and proper to do so and that you and perhaps even the lowliest beggar are suitable judges of their actions.

Mel Brooks, "History of the World, Part I"

Dole Office Clerk: Occupation?
Comicus: Stand up philosopher.
Dole Office Clerk: What?
Comicus: Stand up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and meaningful comprehension.
Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a BULLSHIT artist!
Miriam: Miracle! Oh, what a beautiful name! What's yours?
Comicus: Miracle. Uh, Comicus. I'm a stand-up philosopher.
Miriam: Oh, I'm Miriam, I'm a vestal virgin.
Comicus: I'm really sorry to hear that.
Comicus: So, have you heard about these new guys, the "Christians"? They are so poor... that they only have ONE God! [drumbeat, everyone laughs] But we Romans are rich. We've got a lot of gods. We've got a god for everything. The only thing we don't have a god for is premature ejaculation - but I hear that that's coming quickly.
[Condemned for offending Emperor Nero with his stand-up routine]
Comicus: Boy, when you die at the palace, you really DIE at the palace!


Swiftus: Oh you are nuts. N-V-T-S - nuts!

At 3/17/2006 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plato wanted the people to be "free" and "self-regulating", but to accomplish that advised strict control over the surrounding "culture".

Plato, "Laws"

ATHENIAN: Then that only can be rightly judged by the standard of pleasure, which makes or furnishes no utility or truth or likeness, nor on the other hand is productive of any hurtful quality, but exists solely for the sake of the accompanying charm; and the term 'pleasure' is most appropriately applied to it when these other qualities are absent.

CLEINIAS: You are speaking of harmless pleasure, are you not?

ATHENIAN: Yes; and this I term amusement, when doing neither harm nor good in any degree worth speaking of.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: Then, if such be our principles, we must assert that imitation is not to be judged of by pleasure and false opinion; and this is true of all equality, for the equal is not equal or the symmetrical symmetrical, because somebody thinks or likes something, but they are to be judged of by the standard of truth, and by no other whatever.

CLEINIAS: Quite true.

ATHENIAN: Do we not regard all music as representative and imitative?

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: Then, when any one says that music is to be judged of by pleasure, his doctrine cannot be admitted; and if there be any music of which pleasure is the criterion, such music is not to be sought out or deemed to have any real excellence, but only that other kind of music which is an imitation of the good.

CLEINIAS: Very true.

ATHENIAN: And those who seek for the best kind of song and music ought not to seek for that which is pleasant, but for that which is true; and the truth of imitation consists, as we were saying, in rendering the thing imitated according to quantity and quality.

CLEINIAS: Certainly.

ATHENIAN: And every one will admit that musical compositions are all imitative and representative. Will not poets and spectators and actors all agree in this?

CLEINIAS: They will.

ATHENIAN: Surely then he who would judge correctly must know what each composition is; for if he does not know what is the character and meaning of the piece, and what it represents, he will never discern whether the intention is true or false.

CLEINIAS: Certainly not.

ATHENIAN: And will he who does not know what is true be able to distinguish what is good and bad? My statement is not very clear...


At 3/17/2006 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hesiod, "The Theogony"

From the Heliconian Muses let us begin to sing, who hold the great and holy mount of Helicon, and dance on soft feet about the deep-blue spring and the altar of the almighty son of Cronos, and, when they have washed their tender bodies in Permessus or in the Horse's Spring or Olmeius, make their fair, lovely dances upon highest Helicon and move with vigorous feet. Thence they arise and go abroad by night, veiled in thick mist, and utter their song with lovely voice, praising Zeus the aegis- holder and queenly Hera of Argos who walks on golden sandals and the daughter of Zeus the aegis-holder bright-eyed Athene, and Phoebus Apollo, and Artemis who delights in arrows, and Poseidon the earth-holder who shakes the earth, and reverend Themis and quick-glancing Aphrodite, and Hebe with the crown of gold, and fair Dione, Leto, Iapetus, and Cronos the crafty counsellor, Eos and great Helius and bright Selene, Earth too, and great Oceanus, and dark Night, and the holy race of all the other deathless ones that are for ever. And one day they taught Hesiod glorious song while he was shepherding his lambs under holy Helicon, and this word first the goddesses said to me -- the Muses of Olympus, daughters of Zeus who holds the aegis:

`Shepherds of the wilderness, wretched things of shame, mere bellies, we know how to speak many false things as though they were true; but we know, when we will, to utter true things.'

So said the ready-voiced daughters of great Zeus, and they plucked and gave me a rod, a shoot of sturdy laurel, a marvellous thing, and breathed into me a divine voice to celebrate things that shall be and things there were aforetime; and they bade me sing of the race of the blessed gods that are eternally, but ever to sing of themselves both first and last. But why all this about oak or stone?

Come thou, let us begin with the Muses who gladden the great spirit of their father Zeus in Olympus with their songs, telling of things that are and that shall be and that were aforetime with consenting voice. Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spread abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the homes of the immortals. And they uttering their immortal voice, celebrate in song first of all the reverend race of the gods from the beginning, those whom Earth and wide Heaven begot, and the gods sprung of these, givers of good things. Then, next, the goddesses sing of Zeus, the father of gods and men, as they begin and end their strain, how much he is the most excellent among the gods and supreme in power. And again, they chant the race of men and strong giants, and gladden the heart of Zeus within Olympus, -- the Olympian Muses, daughters of Zeus the aegis-holder.


At 3/17/2006 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plato, "Charmides"

He (Charmides) came as he was bidden, and sat down between Critias and me. Great amusement was occasioned by every one pushing with might and main at his neighbour in order to make a place for him next to themselves, until at the two ends of the row one had to get up and the other was rolled over sideways. Now I, my friend, was beginning to feel awkward; my former bold belief in my powers of conversing with him had vanished. And when Critias told him that I was the person who had the cure, he looked at me in such an indescribable manner, and was just going to ask a question. And at that moment all the people in the palaestra crowded about us, and, O rare! I caught a sight of the inwards of his garment, and took the flame. Then I could no longer contain myself. I thought how well Cydias understood the nature of love, when, in speaking of a fair youth, he warns some one 'not to bring the fawn in the sight of the lion to be devoured by him,' for I felt that I had been overcome by a sort of wild-beast appetite. But I controlled myself, and when he asked me if I knew the cure of the headache, I answered, but with an effort, that I did know.

And what is it? he said.

I replied that it was a kind of leaf, which required to be accompanied by a charm, and if a person would repeat the charm at the same time that he used the cure, he would be made whole; but that without the charm the leaf would be of no avail.

Then I will write out the charm from your dictation, he said.

With my consent? I said, or without my consent?

With your consent, Socrates, he said, laughing.

Very good, I said; and are you quite sure that you know my name?

I ought to know you, he replied, for there is a great deal said about you among my companions; and I remember when I was a child seeing you in company with my cousin Critias.

I am glad to find that you remember me, I said; for I shall now be more at home with you and shall be better able to explain the nature of the charm, about which I felt a difficulty before. For the charm will do more, Charmides, than only cure the headache. I dare say that you have heard eminent physicians say to a patient who comes to them with bad eyes, that they cannot cure his eyes by themselves, but that if his eyes are to be cured, his head must be treated; and then again they say that to think of curing the head alone, and not the rest of the body also, is the height of folly. And arguing in this way they apply their methods to the whole body, and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. Did you ever observe that this is what they say?

Yes, he said.

And they are right, and you would agree with them?

Yes, he said, certainly I should.

His approving answers reassured me, and I began by degrees to regain confidence, and the vital heat returned. Such, Charmides, I said, is the nature of the charm, which I learned when serving with the army from one of the physicians of the Thracian king Zamolxis, who are said to be so skilful that they can even give immortality. This Thracian told me that in these notions of theirs, which I was just now mentioning, the Greek physicians are quite right as far as they go; but Zamolxis, he added, our king, who is also a god, says further, 'that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this,' he said, 'is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well.' For all good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as if from the head into the eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing. And the cure, my dear youth, has to be effected by the use of certain charms, and these charms are fair words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance is, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body. And he who taught me the cure and the charm at the same time added a special direction: 'Let no one,' he said, 'persuade you to cure the head, until he has first given you his soul to be cured by the charm. For this,' he said, 'is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body.' And he added with emphasis, at the same time making me swear to his words, 'Let no one, however rich, or noble, or fair, persuade you to give him the cure, without the charm.' Now I have sworn, and I must keep my oath, and therefore if you will allow me to apply the Thracian charm first to your soul, as the stranger directed, I will afterwards proceed to apply the cure to your head. But if not, I do not know what I am to do with you, my dear Charmides.

Critias, when he heard this, said: The headache will be an unexpected gain to my young relation, if the pain in his head compels him to improve his mind: and I can tell you, Socrates, that Charmides is not only pre-eminent in beauty among his equals, but also in that quality which is given by the charm; and this, as you say, is temperance?

Yes, I said


After the fall of Athens, Critias became one of the ruling Oligarch's, before the return of democracy.

At 3/17/2006 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Culture was a tool used by "early" Athenian tyrants to educate the populace and try and make them more "temperate"...

from Wikipedia...

Scholars generally agree that the Iliad and Odyssey underwent a process of standardization and refinement out of older material beginning in the 8th century BC. An important role in this standardization appears to have been played by the Athenian tyrant Hipparchus, who reformed the recitation of Homeric poetry at the Panathenaic festival. Many classicists hold that this reform must have involved the production of a canonical written text.

2. Inscriptions on Hermai (Herms) of Hipparchus:

a. "A reminder of Hipparchus: walk thinking just thoughts."

b. "A reminder of Hipparchus: do not deceive a friend."

([Plato], Hipparchus 229a-b)


Hipparchus was one of the sons of Pisistratus. He became tyrant of Athens, along with his brother Hippias, when Pisistratus died in 528/527 BC. While Hippias was responsible for the political and economic aspects of the tyranny, Hipparchus was a patron of the arts; and it was Hipparchus who invited Simonides of Ceos to Athens.

In 514 BC Hipparchus was murdered by the Tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogeiton. This was apparently a personal dispute, according to Herodotus and Thucydides; Hipparchus had fallen in love with Harmodius, who was already the lover of Aristogeiton. When Harmodius rejected him, Hipparchus refused to allow Harmodius' sister to participate in a religious festival, insinuating that she was not a virgin. As a result, Harmodius and Aristogeiton assassinated him.

After the assassination, Hippias became a bitter and cruel tyrant, and was overthrown a few years later.

3. Drinking Songs in Praise of Harmodius and Aristogeiton:

a. In a branch of myrtle I shall bear my sword
Like Harmodius and Aristogeiton,
When the two of them slew the tyrant
And made Athens a city of equal rights

b. Dearest Harmodius, surely you are not dead;
They say that you are in the Islands of the Blessed,
Where dwells swift-footed Achilles
And, they say, brave Diomedes son of Tydeus

(Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 695a-b)


At 3/17/2006 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plato, "Ion" (Ion is a rhapsode, who recites and acts out Homer's Iliad and Odyssey from memory)

SOCRATES: I perceive, Ion; and I will proceed to explain to you what I imagine to be the reason of this. The gift which you possess of speaking excellently about Homer is not an art, but, as I was just saying, an inspiration; there is a divinity moving you, like that contained in the stone which Euripides calls a magnet, but which is commonly known as the stone of Heraclea. This stone not only attracts iron rings, but also imparts to them a similar power of attracting other rings; and sometimes you may see a number of pieces of iron and rings suspended from one another so as to form quite a long chain: and all of them derive their power of suspension from the original stone. In like manner the Muse first of all inspires men herself; and from these inspired persons a chain of other persons is suspended, who take the inspiration. For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantian revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains: but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysus but not when they are in their right mind. And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees, winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles. Many are the noble words in which poets speak concerning the actions of men; but like yourself when speaking about Homer, they do not speak of them by any rules of art: they are simply inspired to utter that to which the Muse impels them, and that only; and when inspired, one of them will make dithyrambs, another hymns of praise, another choral strains, another epic or iambic verses—and he who is good at one is not good at any other kind of verse: for not by art does the poet sing, but by power divine. Had he learned by rules of art, he would have known how to speak not of one theme only, but of all; and therefore God takes away the minds of poets, and uses them as his ministers, as he also uses diviners and holy prophets, in order that we who hear them may know them to be speaking not of themselves who utter these priceless words in a state of unconsciousness, but that God himself is the speaker, and that through them he is conversing with us. And Tynnichus the Chalcidian affords a striking instance of what I am saying: he wrote nothing that any one would care to remember but the famous paean which is in every one’s mouth, one of the finest poems ever written, simply an invention of the Muses, as he himself says. For in this way the God would seem to indicate to us and not allow us to doubt that these beautiful poems are not human, or the work of man, but divine and the work of God; and that the poets are only the interpreters of the Gods by whom they are severally possessed. Was not this the lesson which the God intended to teach when by the mouth of the worst of poets he sang the best of songs? Am I not right, Ion?

ION: Yes, indeed, Socrates, I feel that you are; for your words touch my soul, and I am persuaded that good poets by a divine inspiration interpret the things of the Gods to us.

SOCRATES: And you rhapsodists are the interpreters of the poets?

ION: There again you are right.

SOCRATES: Then you are the interpreters of interpreters?

ION: Precisely.


At 3/17/2006 10:01 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

When you see your neighbor publically LAUGHING at the regime and it's leaders, you begin believe it is right and proper to do so and that you and perhaps even the lowliest beggar are suitable judges of their actions.

Shakespeare would have been in big trouble in ancient Rome.

At 3/19/2006 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shakespeare was defintely a "revolutionary genius" who used historical distance to shape the political attitudes of his day... and ours.


At 3/19/2006 5:23 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...



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