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Words of Wisdom

Everyone Should Learn Virtue: From the Teachings of Musonius Rufus (vegetarian), Part 2 of 2



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Let us continue with the discourse entitled, “Should daughters receive the same education as sons?” where even children are encouraged to learn the importance of virtue from a young age.

“Gluttony, drunkenness, and other related vices, which are vices of excess and bring disgrace upon those guilty of them, show that self-control is most necessary for every human being, male and female alike; for the only way of escape from wantonness is through self-control; there is no other. Perhaps someone may say that courage is a virtue appropriate to men only. That is not so. For a woman too, must have courage and be wholly free of cowardice, so that she will neither be swayed by hardships nor by fear. No more, it is necessary for women to be able to repel attack, unless indeed they are willing to appear more cowardly than hens and other female birds which defend their young from creatures much larger than themselves. If, therefore, something of this courage is lacking in other women, it is due to lack of use and practice, rather than because they were not endowed with it.”

“Hence, I hold it reasonable that the things which have reference to virtue ought to be taught to male and female alike; and furthermore, that straight from infancy they ought to be taught that this is right and that is wrong, and that it is the same for both alike; that this is helpful, that is harmful, that one must do this, one must not do that. From this training, understanding is developed in those who learn, boys and girls alike, with no difference. Then they must be inspired with a feeling of shame toward all that is base. When these two qualities have been created within them, man and woman are of necessity self-controlled. And most of all, the child who is trained properly, whether boy or girl, must be accustomed to endure hardship, not to fear death, not to be disheartened in the face of any misfortune; they must in short be accustomed to every situation which calls for courage.”

“If you ask me what doctrine produces such an education, I shall reply, that as without philosophy, no man would be properly educated, so no woman would be. I only urge that they should acquire from philosophy goodness in conduct and nobility of character.”
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