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Rudyard Kipling’s short story, “Regulus,” revolves around the flogging of a student who has let loose a mouse in the drawing classroom of a turn-of-the-century British public school. The first part of the story is devoted to a fifth-form Latin class’s line-by-line explication of Horace’s fifth Roman ode, in which the story’s title character is presented as a paradigm of manly virtue; the remainder is given over to narration of the mouse-miscreant’s progress toward punishment, in thematic counterpoint to the Regulus exemplum. Within that idiosyncratic framework, the story tackles as ambitious a topic as the purposes of education, with particular attention to the contemporary curricular battle between the “ancient” and “modern sides” and to the shaping of character through a combination of Latin philology, compulsory team sports, and institutionalized corporal punishment. The story holds up a mirror to an educational system crafted to initiate a colonial society’s sons into the codes of behavior designed to perpetuate its rule.


Pre-print version of article that appeared in International Journal of the Classical Tradition, 15.3 (2008). The published version is available here:


International Society for the Classical Tradition



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