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10.10.07

À mon chevet: The Satires of Juvenal

available at Amazon
À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.
Gods, may the earth be soft and light on the shades of our fathers,
The crocus bloom, and spring be eternal over their ashes.
They were men who revered a teacher as much as a parent.
Achilles, fully grown up, feared the rod and respected
Chiron the Centaur, who taught him song in his native mountains.
But what happens today? More than one teacher, like Rufus,
"Cicero of the the Rhone," is beaten up by his pupils.
Who pays the learned Palaemon, or Celadus, what they deserve?
Yet, of the little they get, the scholar's nitwit attendant
Has to take his cut, and so does the steward disburser.
Might as well give up, Palaemon. A blanket seller
Knocks a little off for a white sale during the winter.
Just so you get some pay, however little, for sitting
All night long in some dump no blacksmith would ever put up with,
In some dump that would choke the meanest wool-carder's apprentice.
Just so you get some pay for inhaling the reek of the lamps,
One for each boy in the class, with their Horace completely discolored
And the Virgilian pages grimy and sooty with lampblack.
Just so you get some pay -- but for that it takes a court order.

-- Decimus Junius Juvenalis, Satire 7: On Poets, Pedagogues, and Poverty, trans. Rolfe Humphries
O Juvenal, teachers are still being attacked and working in unhealthy conditions today.

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