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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 14. 1966.

Abundant evidence

Abundant evidence

Can I turn to history and literature and find abundant evidence of great minds turning from oppressing study or agonising problems to find new strength and refreshment for their struggle in the delights of physical exertion?

Certainly the ancients seem to have fostered the simultaneous pursuit and physical excellence and learning, but ever since Oedipus came to grief with the psycho-analysis, there has grown a tendency to look warily at classical ideals and ethics.

Today's iconoclast can very quickly reduce the ancient motto of human perfection, "mens sana in corpore sano," to "your body is out of its mind" and this doesn't help my case very much.

What about Shakespeare? He's usually good for a quotation or two. I can vaguely remember one of his kings in his hour of tribulation crying, out for a piece of gymnastic, apparatus ("A horse, a horse ...") That's encouraging. And didn't Ophelia, when Hamlet's exclusive reading habits get on her nerves, turn instinctively to the swimming pool for solace?

Now we're making distinct progress. John Milton obviously knew the frustrations of being a mediocre tennis player ("they also serve who only stand and wait") but eventually he was able, like that outstanding cricketer - poet, Hilaire Belloc ("Do you, remember my innings, Miranda?") to look back with pride upon the highlights of a fine sporting youth ("with Amaryllis in the shade.")