An Admonition to the Teacher

I have taught courses in Latin, Greek, philosophy, drama, and literature to students from second grade through graduate students, both the poor Latin and African Americans of the South Side of Chicago and their Southeast DC counterparts, as well as the wealthy sons and daughters of comfortable bureaucrats, businessmen, and lawyers, both in homeschools and in classrooms, in the august halls of private schools and universities and in the make-do, run-down decay of inner-city converted buildings in Chicago and Washington, DC.

This advice, from St Augustine of Hippo, his On Christian Teaching, a treatise by a professional rhetorician and teacher of rhetoric, on the reading and interpretation of texts, would have applied both to my students and to me in any teaching job I have held.

Immo vero et quod per hominem discendum est, sine superbia discat, et per quem docetur alius, sine superbia et sine invidia tradat quod accepit.

Aurelius Augustinus, De Doctrina Christiana

But above all, what must be learned through man, let man learn without prideful vanity, and let him through whom another is taught, pass on without prideful vanity, and without begrudging, what he has received.

Aurelius Augustine, On Christian Teaching

St Augustine taught in the backwater town of Thagaste, in the Roman Province of North Africa, in the Western Imperial Court at Milan, where he held an endowed chair, and everything in between as student and teacher at Rome and Carthage, and as a tireless teacher of his congregation at Hippo Regius, or “Port Royal”, a town perhaps comparable in its time and place to a New Orleans or rather Buffalo, NY. It is difficult to estimate the significance of a town, whatever it had been, which produced one of the three most influential authors (with Martin Luther and Karl Marx, if a certain contingent of today’s historians can be believed) in the history of Western Civilization.

It is true at least, as a certain historian recently said, that one cannot do history after the lives of Augustine, Luther, and Marx had run their course, in ignorance of those men’s thought.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being ignorant with me, and for seeking with me.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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