A Spurious Quote from Socrates on Youth

“The children now love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize over their teachers.”

“Attributed in N.Y. Times, 24 Jan. 1948. This spurious quote, trying to make the point that adults have always complained about the behavior of youths, became very popular in the 1960s, Researchers have never found anything like it in the words of Socrates or Plato. Dennis Lien has discovered a similar attribution in Guy Endore’s 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris: ‘The young people no longer obey the old. The laws that ruled their fathers are trampled underfoot. They seek only their own pleasure and have no respect for religion. They dress indecently and their talk is full of impudence.’ Endore cites ‘an ancient Egyptian papyrus’ as the source.”

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

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