- As a moral influence
- As a language influence (since he was writing about raising an orator, and in the classical tradition language was the most crucial element in thought and learning, he thought that the kind of language the child was exposed to in his early years made a difference)
I also like his insistence that parents be as learned as possible, "even" mothers (not a given in ancient days, but the Romans did quite honor women in comparison to the Greeks, as you can see in the example of Cornelia Gracchus and note the famous story of her "jewels". This gives me an excuse to continue studying besides just WANTING to : ).
Quintilian assumes the well born boy will have a nurse and a tutor (a paedogogi, a Greek slave who was assigned to go with the child through his daily activities -- something like a governess in 19th century England).
1. Before all things, let the talk of the child's nurses not be ungrammatical.
We are by nature most tenacious of what we have imbibed in our infant years, as the flavor with which you scent vessels when new remains in them, nor can the colors of wool, for which its plain whiteness has been exchanged, be effaced. Those very habits, which are of a more objectionable nature, adhere with the greater tenacity, for good ones are easily changed for the worse, but when will you change bad ones into good?2. In parents I should wish that there should be as much learning as possible.
Nor do I speak, indeed, merely of fathers, for we have heard that Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi (whose very learned writing in her letters has come down to posterity), contributed greatly to their eloquence
3. (This part refers to the Greek slaves, designated tutors who took the boys to school and back and generally acted as their companions).
Of paedagogi this further may be said, that they should either be men of acknowledged learning, which I should wish to be the first object, or that they should be conscious of their want of learning; for none are more pernicious than those who, having gone some little beyond the first elements, clothe themselves in a mistaken persuasion of their own knowledge. Since they disdain to yield to those who are skilled in teaching and, growing imperious, and sometimes fierce, in a certain right, as it were, of exercising their authority (with which that sort of men are generally puffed up), they teach only their own follyAnd in general, after advising parents to take as much care as they realistically can in these matters (another thing I like about him is his grave realism -- he acknowledges that most of us are working with various limitations so our job is to do the best we can with what we have available to us)
If I seem to my reader to require a great deal, let him consider that it is an orator that is to be educated, an arduous task even when nothing is deficient for the formation of his character; and that more and more difficult labours yet remain. There is need of constant study, the most excellent teachers, and a variety of mental exercises. 11. The best of rules, therefore, are to be laid down, and if any one shall refuse to observe them, the fault will lie not in the method, but in the man.