IV.4 The difference between the effects of education among the Ancients and in our time

Most of the ancient peo­ples lived under govern­ments which have vir­tue as their prin­ci­ple ; and when it was vigo­rous, they accom­pli­shed things we no lon­ger see today, at which our small minds won­der.

Their edu­ca­tion had ano­ther advan­tage over ours, in that it was never belied. Epaminondas, in the last year of his life, said, heard, saw, and did the same things he had at the age when he had begun to learn.

Today we receive three dif­fe­rent or contrary edu­ca­tions : from our fathers, from our mas­ters, and from the world. What we are told in the last of these over­turns all the thoughts of the first two. That is in part because of the contrast for us bet­ween our obli­ga­tions to reli­gion and to the world, some­thing which was foreign to the Ancients.