Be ashamed when you ought to be ashamed.

This quotation is spoken by Just Argument near the end of Act 1, Scene 2 as he debates with Unjust Argument over the proper model of education for young boys in general, and Pheidippides in particular. Just Argument, when asked to expound upon boys' education, speaks at length about the edifying value of ancient poetry and physical fitness. Often, however, he disrupts the flow of his own argument with some lustful elaboration on the beauty of young boys and his over-zealous libido undercuts the seriousness and morality of his message. Unjust Argument does not, in exchange, suggest an alternate system of education, but rather picks apart the minutiae of Just's model until he has flustered him completely and Just cedes him the victory.

The concept of a proper education is crucial to The Clouds and is featured prominently in other Aristophanes plays such as the no-longer-extant The Banqueters. This quotation is taken from the "agon," or formalized debate, a central element of Greek comic form wherein the thesis of the piece was given a proper debate by two or more of its characters. In this play, it is obvious that Aristophanes sympathizes with the traditional system of education that Just here represents: the finale of the play only proves the extensive damage (arson, abuse, etc.) that results from the "new," sophistic education. However, in casting Just Argument as a flighty pedophile, Aristophanes is demonstrating that both sides have their flaws. This quotation in particular demonstrates how even the good, old education—the education that "rear[ed] the men who fought at Marathon" (I.ii.961)—can fail. This quote is a ridiculously circular maxim that teaches nothing and proves nothing. It is a vacuous statement and it suggests the damage that can be done by not questioning or challenging tradition hard enough.