The Ancient Library

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On this page: Education (continued)



The profound moral influence attributed to music in Greek antiquity made this art an essential part of education. It brought •with it, naturally, an acquaintance with the masterpieces of Greek poetry. The in­strument most practised was the lyre, from its suitableness as an accompaniment to song. The flute was held in less esteem.

The aim of education was supposed to be the harmonious development of mind and body alike. Instruction in gymnastics was consequently regarded as no less essential than in music, and began at about the same age. It was carried on in the pdlcestrcR (see palaestra) under the paidotribai, who were, like the grammatikoi, private, not public instructors. The boys began their gymnastics in the palwstra, and completed them in the gymnasia under the superinten­dence of the gymnastce. The ephebi, in particular, or boys between sixteen and nineteen, practised their exercises in the gymnasia, till, in their twentieth year, they were considered capable of bearing arms, and employed on frontier service. At this point they became liable to enlistment for foreign service, and obtained the right of attending the meeting of the public as­sembly. Towards the end of the 5th century b.c. the class of sopMstee, or pro­fessors of practical education, arose. This gave the young men an opportunity of extending their education by attending lectures in rhetoric and philosophy; - but the high fees charged by the sophistte had the effect of restricting this instruction to the sons of the wealthy.

(2) Roman. Among the Romans the father was free, when the new-born child was laid before him, either to expose it, or to take it up, as a sign that he meant to rear it. He had also the right of selling his children, or putting them to death. It was not till the beginning of the 3rd century a.d. that the exposure of children was legally accounted as murder, nor did the evil practice cease even then. If the child was to be reared, it was named, if a boy on the ninth day after birth, if a girl, on the eighth. The day was called dies lustricus, or day of purification. A sacrifice in the house, accompanied with a feast, gave to the child's life a religious dedication. A box with an amulet was hung round the child's neck as a protection against magic (see BuLluB). Official lists of births were not published until the 2nd century after Christ. In earlier times, in the case of boys, the name was not formally confirmed

until the assumption of the tSga rtrllls, The child's physical and moral education was, in old times, regularly given at home under the superintendence of the parents, chiefly of the mother. The training was strict, and aimed at making the children strong and he:.lthy, religious, obedient to the laws, temperate, modest in speech and actions, strictly submissive to their superiors, well behaved, virtuous, intelli­gent, and self-reliant. The girls were taught by their mothers to spin and weave, the boys were instructed by their fathers in ploughing, sowing, reaping, riding, swim­ming, boxing and fencing ; in the knowledge necessary for household management; in reading, writing, and counting; and in the laws of their country. The Romans did not, like the Greeks, lay stress on gym­nastics, but only carried physical exercises to the point necessary for military service. The contests and exercises took place in the Campus Martins, which, down to the time of the Empire, was the favourite arena of the youths. The state took as little care of mental as of physical education. If a man could not educate his children himself, he sent them to a master. From an early time there were elementary teachers (UtterS-torSs) at Rome, corresponding to the Greek grammatistce. These were sometimes, slaves, who taught in their masters' house for his benefit. Sometimes they were freed-men, who gave instruction either in families, or in schools, (sch&la or Indus) of their own. They received their salary monthly, but only for eight months in the year; no in­struction being given between June and November. Boys and girls were taught together. The elementary instruction in­cluded reading, writing, and arithmetic; arithmetic being, as among the Greeks, practised by counting on the fingers. In later times grown up boys learned arith­metic with a special master (calculator), who was paid at a higher rate than the littcrator, With the duodecimal system in use, arithmetic was regarded as very diffi­cult. The reading lessons included learning the Twelve Tables by heart.

After the Second Panic War it became usual, at first in single families, and after­wards more and more generally, to employ a litterator, or grammdticus, to teach Greek. The chief element in this instruction was the explanation of Greek poets, above all of Homer, whose writings became a school book among the Romans, as among the Greeks. At the same time higher instruction was

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