Theognis of Megara

(6th cent)

On Inborn Traits - Poem by Theognis of Megara

To rear a child is easy, but to teach
Morals and manners is beyond our reach;
To make the foolish wise, the wicked good,
That science yet was never understood.
The sons of Esculapius, if their art
Could remedy a perverse and wicked heart,
Might earn enormous wages! But in fact
The mind is not compounded and compact
Of precept and example; human art
In human nature has no share or part.
Hatred of vice, the fear of shame and sin,
Are things of native growth, not grafted in:
Else wives and worthy parents might correct
In children's hearts each error and defect:
Whereas we see them disappointed still,
No scheme nor artifice of human skill
Can rectify the passions or the will.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 24, 2012

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