The Ancient Library
 

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On this page: Education (continued)

205

EDUCATION.

till the blood flowed, and deemed it a dis­grace to shew any sign of suffering. Read­ing and writing were left to private in­structors; but music, and choral singing in particular, formed a part of the regular discipline. The understanding was as­sumed to be formed by daily life in public, and the conversation of the men, to which the boys were admitted. Every Spartan boy looked up to his seniors as his instruc­tors and superiors; the consequence being that in Sparta the young behaved to their elders with more modesty and respect than in any other Greek city. Besides this, every man chose a boy or youth as his favourite. He was bound to set the boy an example of all manly excellence, and was regarded as responsible and punishable for his delinquencies. This public education and the performance of the regular exer­cises, under the superintendence of the Bidyas, lasted till the thirtieth year. In the eighteenth year the boy passed into the class of youths. From the twentieth year, when military service proper began, to the thirtieth, the youth was called an eirgn. He was not regarded as a man, or allowed to attend the public assembly till his thirtieth year.

The girls had an education in music and gymnastic education similar to that of the boys, and at the public games and contests each sex was witness of the performances of the other. The girls' dress was extremely simple, consisting of a sleeveless tunic reaching not quite down to the knees, and open at the sides. In this, however, there was nothing which interfered with modesty and propriety of behaviour.

In Crete the system of education was generally similar to that of Sparta. But the public training did not begin till the seven­teenth year, when the boys of the same age joined themselves freely into divisions called <tg£lai, each led by some noble youth, whose father was called (tgilatUs, and undertook the supervision of the games and exercises. It is probable that the young men remained in this organization till their twenty-seventh year, when the law compelled them to marry.

At Athens, as in Greece generally, the father decided whether the child should be reared or exposed. The latter alternative seems to have been not seldom adopted, especially when the child was a girl. If the education of a child was once fairly commenced, the parents had no power to put it out of the way. At the birth of a boy, the door of the house was adorned with

a branch of olive; at the birth of a girl, with wool. On the fifth or seventh day after birth the child underwent a religious dedication at the festival of the AmphidrOmla (" run­ning round "). It was touched with instru­ments of purification, and carried several times round the burning hearth. On the tenth day came the festival of naming the child, with sacrifice and entertainment, when the father acknowledged it as legi­timate. To the end of the sixth year the boys and girls were brought up together under female supervision; but after this the sexes were educated apart. The girls' life was almost entirely confined to her home: she was brought up under the superintendence of women, and with hardly anything which can be called profitable in­struction. The boy was handed over to a slave older than himself called PcedagOgOs. It was the slave's duty to watch the boy's outward behaviour, and to attend him, un­til his boyhood was over, whenever he went out, especially to the school and the gymna­sium. The laws made some provision for the proper education of boys. They obliged every citizen to have his son instructed in music, gymnastics, and the elements of letters (grammtfta), i.e. writing, reading, and arithmetic. They further obliged the parents to teach their boys some profitable trade, in case they were unable to leave them a property sufficient to maintain them independent. If they failed in this, they forfeited all claim to support from the children in old age. But with.schools and their arrangements the state did not con­cern itself. The schools were entirely in private hands, though they were under the eye of the police. The elementary instruc­tion was given by the grammAtistas, or teachers of letters, the teacher writing and the scholars copying. The text-books for reading were mostly poems, especially such as were calculated to have an influence on the formation of character. The Homeric poems were the favourite reading book, but Hesiod, ThSognis, and others were also admitted. Collections of suitable passages from the poets were early made for the boys to copy, learn by heart, and repeat aloud. The higher instruction given by the grammdtlkQs was also of this literary character.

Mathematics were introduced into the school curriculum as early as the 5th cen­tury, drawing not till the middle of the 4th century b.c. Instruction in music proper began about the thirteenth year.

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