Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two Dogs

"Lycurgus, the [Spartan] lawgiver, wishing to recall the citizens from the mode of living then existent, and to lead them to a more sober and temperate order of life, and to render them good and honorable men (for they were living a soft life), reared two puppies of the same litter; and one he accustomed to dainty food, and allowed it to stay in the house; the other he took afield and trained in hunting. Later he brought them into the public assembly and put down some bones and dainty food and let loose a hare. Each of the dogs made for that to which it was accustomed, and, when the one of them had overpowered the hare, he said, 'You see, fellow-citizens, that these dogs belong to the same stock, but by virtue of the discipline to which they have been subjected they have turned out utterly different from each other, and you also see that training is more effective than nature for good…. So also in our case, fellow-citizens, noble birth, so admired of the multitude, and our being descended from Heracles does not bestow any advantage, unless we do the sort of things for which he was manifestly the most glorious and most noble of all mankind, and unless we practice and learn what is good our whole life long.'"

Plutarch, Moralia
Sayings of Spartans