Time Discipline in Western Societies
In more urban societies, some of these natural phenomena were no longer at hand, and most were of much less consequence to the inhabitants. Artificial means of dividing and measuring time were needed. Plautus complained of the social effect of the invention of such divisions in his lines complaining of the sundial:
- The gods confound the man who first found out
How to distinguish hours! Confound him, too,
Who in this place set up a sun-dial,
To cut and hack my days so wretchedly
Into small portions. When I was a boy
My belly was my sun-dial; one more sure,
Truer, and more exact than any of them.
This dial told me when 'twas proper time
To go to dinner, when I had aught to eat.
But now-a-days, why, even when I have,
I can't fall-to, unless the sun give leave.
The town's so full of these confounded dials,
The greatest part of its inhabitants,
Shrunk up with hunger, creep along the streets.
Plautus's protagonist here complains about the social discipline and expectations that arose when these measurements of time were introduced. The invention of artificial units of time measurement made the introduction of time management possible, and time management was not universally appreciated by those whose time was managed.
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