Monday, November 14, 2005

Flashes from the Past:"...Slow in being persuaded of things and sometimes difficult..."

We stumbled on this story and couldn't resist this Flash from the Way-Way Past: "a very obedient and questioning child, although slow in being persuaded of things and sometimes difficult." When an important friend of the family was visiting, the children of the house were playfully asked what they thought about his current (and somewhat questionable) political cause. All of the other children nodded their support, but this young fellow refused to give his approval although the 'friend' dangled him outside a window by his feet and shook him for awhile. Who was this?

This was hero of the Roman Republic Cato the Younger (95 BC–46 BC), as an adult also known for his legendary stubbornness, tenacity, and high morals. According to Plutarch, Pompaedius (the fellow who hung him outside a window) also muttered at the time, "What a blessing for Italy that he is but a child! If he were a man, I believe we should not gain one voice among the people."

Another fascinating detail by Plutarch: "When he (Cato the Younger) began to learn, he proved dull, and slow to apprehend, but of what he once received, his memory was remarkably tenacious. And such in fact, we find generally to be the course of nature; men of fine genius are readily reminded of things, but those who receive with most pains and difficulty, remember best; every new thing they learn, being, as it were, burnt and branded in on their minds."

Plutarch on Cato the Younger
Cato the Younger Wikipedia

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