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1. Greek

The Dorians of Crete and Sparta followed a peculiar line in the matter of education. Throughout Greece generally the State left it to private effort, but in Sparta and Crete it came under the direct supervision of the community. At Sparta, as soon as a child was born, a commission of the elders of its tribe had to decide whether it should be reared or exposed. If it was weakly or deformed it was exposed in a defile of Mount Taÿgetus. Till his seventh year a boy was left to the care of his parents. After this the παιδονόμος, or officer presiding over the whole department of education, assigned him to a division of children of the same age called a βούα. Several of such βοῦαι together formed a troop or ἴλη (Dor. ἴλα). Each βούα was superintended by a βουαγός, each ἴλη by an ἰλάρχης. Both these officers were elected from among the most promising of the grown-up youths, and were bound to instruct the children in their exercises. The exercises were calculated to suit the various ages of the children, and consisted in running, leaping, wrestling, throwing the spear and the discus, as well as in a number of dances, particularly the war dance or πυρρίχη (q. v.). The dancing was under the constant superintendence of the παιδονόμος and five βιδιαῖοι under him. The discipline was generally directed to strengthening or hardening the body. The boys went barefoot and bareheaded, with hair cut short, and in light clothing. From their twelfth year they wore nothing but an upper garment, which had to last the whole year. They slept in a common room without a roof, on a litter of hay or straw, and from their fifteenth year on rushes or reeds. Their food was extremely simple, and not sufficient to satisfy hunger. A boy who did not want to be hungry had to steal; if he did this cleverly he was praised, and punished if detected. Every year the boys had to undergo a flogging at the altar of Artemis Orthia, as a test of their power to endure bodily pain. They were whipped till the blood flowed, and deemed it a disgrace to show any sign of suffering. (See Bomonikes; Diamastigosis.) 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 βιδιαῖοι, 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 εἴρην or ἰρήν. 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 exercises 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 ἀγέλαι, each led by some noble youth, whose father was called ἀγελάτας 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 Amphidromia (“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 girl's 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 παιδαγωγός. 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 (γράμματα) —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 γραμματισταί, 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, Theognis, 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 γραμματικός was also of this literary character.

Mathematics were introduced into the school curriculum as early as the fifth century, drawing not till the middle of the fourth century B.C. Instruction in music proper began about the thirteenth year. 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. See Musica.

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 παλαίστρα under the παιδοτρίβαι, who were, like the γραμματικοί, private, not public, instructors. The boys began their gymnastics in the palaestra, and completed them in the gymnasia under the superintendence of the γυμνασταί. The ἔφηβοι, 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 fifth century B.C. the class of σοφισταί, or professors of practical education, arose. These gave the young men an opportunity of extending their education by attending lectures in rhetoric and philosophy, but the high fees charged by the sophists 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 third century A.D. that the exposure of children was legally accounted 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 Amuletum; Bulla.) Official lists of births were not published until the second century after Christ. In earlier times, in the case of boys, the name was not formally confirmed until the assumption of the toga virilis. The child's physical and moral education was, in old times, regularly given at home under the superintendence of the parents, chiefly the mother. The training was strict, and aimed at making the children strong and healthy, religious, obedient to the laws, temperate, modest in speech and action, 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 the 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 Martius, 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 (litteratores) at Rome, corresponding to the Greek γραμματισταί. These were sometimes slaves, who taught in their masters' houses for their benefit. Sometimes they were freedmen, who gave instruction either in families or in schools (schola or ludus) 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 litterator. With the duodecimal system in use arithmetic was regarded as very difficult. (See Numeri.) The reading-lessons included learning the Twelve Tables by heart.

After the Second Punic War it became usual, at first in single families, and afterwards more and more generally, to employ a litterator, or grammaticus, to teach Greek. The chief element in this instruction was the explanation of Greek poets, above all of Homer, whose writings became a schoolbook among the Romans as among the Greeks. At the same time higher instruction was given in Latin as well, the text-books being the Latin Odyssey of Livius Andronicus, the works of Terence, and in later times of Vergil, Horace, and others. The exposition of these authors gave an opportunity of communicating a variety of information. Girls were educated on the same lines. The highest point in Roman education was attained by the schools of the rhetoricians, which came into existence before the end of the republican age. In these schools, as in those of the grammatici, Greek was at first the only language taught. Since the time when Greek literature became the highest educational standard, boys, and sometimes girls, were taught Greek from their earliest years. They were put into the hands of a Greek paedagogus or a Greek female slave, and learned the first rudiments from Greek schoolmasters. As the range of subjects widened so as to include, among other things, music and geometry, more importance came to be attached to scholastic education. This tendency was strengthened by the increased demand for Greek culture which manifested itself under the Empire throughout the length and breadth of the Western provinces. Education was carried out on stricter lines as the old system of hometraining disappeared, mainly owing to the diffusion of an effeminate refinement and the parents' habit of putting their children into the hands of Greek slaves.

The ordinary educational course generally concluded with a boy's sixteenth or seventeenth year, though rhetorical instruction was sometimes continued far beyond this limit; and towards the end of the republican age young men of intellectual ambition would often go to Greece to enlarge their sphere of culture.

On the 17th of March, the festival of the Liberalia, boys who had reached the age of puberty, or their fifteenth year, took off, in the presence of the Lares, their bulla and toga praetexta, or purpleedged toga, and put on the unadorned toga virilis. They were then, after a sacrifice at home, taken by their fathers or guardians, accompanied by friends and relations, to the Forum and enrolled in the lists of citizens. The boys were from this time, in the eyes of the law, capable of marriage, bound to military service, and, in fact, had now entered upon their tirocinium, which was regarded as the last stage of education. See Tirocinium.

After the time of Vespasian the higher public instruction began to be a matter of imperial concern. Vespasian paid away the sum of $4250 annually to the Latin and Greek rhetoricians in Rome. Hadrian founded the Athenaeum, the first known public institution for the higher education, with salaried teachers. (See Athenaeum.) After his time philosophers, rhetoricians, and grammarians were publicly appointed to lecture in all the larger cities of the Empire. They were maintained partly at the expense of the respective communities, partly by the emperors, and enjoyed in all cases certain immunities conferred by the State.

3. The Higher Education

In the days of the Roman Empire there existed at Athens and some of the other Greek cities what closely corresponded to the universities of modern times. Athens had always been what Pericles called “the school of Greece;” and in the early centuries of the Christian era it contained an organized faculty (χορός, συνουσία, ἀγέλη) of accomplished professors, who lectured to a body of students drawn from every quarter of the civilized world. The university at Athens was gradually formed as the result of two previously existing institutions—the Ephebi (ἔφηβοι) and the schools of the philosophers and sophists. The Ephebi, or free Athenian youths, were in early times enrolled as a body primarily intended for the defence of the State. They were educated both physically and mentally, and they formed the nucleus of what afterwards became the student body of the university. Two changes in the constitution of the Ephebi prepared the way for their transformation from a quasi-military body into a university. These changes were
  • 1. the neglect of the principle of compulsory enrollment, and
  • 2. the fact that membership ceased to be confined to Athenians or even to Greeks alone.

These changes left a body of young men, organized and regularly enrolled, free to follow such a course of training as best suited their inclinations and capacities, and ready to be turned to any line of study that had the advocacy of brilliant, energetic, and popular men. The schools of the philosophers supplied the influence necessary for completing the change from a military college to a great university.

Four schools of philosophy had, since the time of the Macedonian wars, been flourishing at Athens. These were the Academic or Platonic School, the Peripatetic or Aristotelian School, the Stoic School, and the Epicurean. Each of these schools from the time of its foundation had received an endowment sufficient to maintain and perpetuate it. Plato (q.v.) had purchased a small garden near the Eleusinian Way, in the grove of Academé, for 3000 drachmas. His philosophic successors, Xenocrates and Polemon, continued to teach in the same spot; their wealthy pupils and other friends of learning added to the grounds, and bequeathed sufficient funds for the support of the philosopher, and thus practically endowed an academic chair (θρόνος). Later we find that the endowment of this chair had so increased that its annual income was 7000 aurei. In like manner Aristotle (q. v.) left to his successor, Theophrastus, the valuable property near the Ilissus; and Theophrastus, in the will whose text has come down to us in Diogenes Laertius (v. 2, 14), completed the permanent endowment of the Peripatetic chair. So Epicurus left his property in the Ceramicus to be the nucleus of an endowment for his school (Diog. Laert. xx. 10), and the Stoics were probably in like manner made independent. Around these four schools of philosophy which, being endowed, taught gratuitously, a multitude of teachers of rhetoric, grammar, literature, logic, physics, and mathematics clustered, and many chairs were endowed by the Roman emperors. The world soon learned to think of Athens as a great seat of learning and culture, brilliant and renowned. Students flocked to her from every quarter of the world. It appears to have been necessary to become enrolled among the Ephebi, but the scholars selected for themselves their own instructors, and attended such lectures as they chose. The number of these students became enormous. Theophrastus alone lectured to as many as two thousand men. The records show the names of many foreign students, some of them being of the Semitic race. The most noted writers of Rome had studied at this university, of whom Cicero, Ovid, and Horace are perhaps the most brilliant names. The customs of the university may be gathered from a perusal of the works of Aulus Gellius, Libanius (A.D. 314), and Philostratus, author of the Βίοι Σοφιστῶν (A.D. 250). From these sources we learn that matriculation took place early in the year; that the students wore a gown (τρίβων) like that of the undergraduates at the English universities; that they pursued athletic sports with much ardour; that at the theatre a special gallery was reserved for them; that certificates of attendance at the courses of lectures were required; that they were under the general direction of a president (κοσμητής); that fees were exacted in the shape of an annual contribution to the university library; that breaches of discipline were punished, as at Oxford, by fines; that the relation between student and professor was very close, so that for a student to cease to take a course was very cutting; and that the students themselves “touted” for the professors. “Most of the young enthusiasts for learning,” says Gregory Nanzianzen, “become mere partisans of their professors. They are all anxiety to get their audiences larger and their fees increased. This they carry to portentous lengths. They post themselves over the city at the beginning of the year; as each new comer disembarks he falls into their hands; they carry him off at once to the house of some countryman or friend who is best at trumpeting the praises of his own professor” (Libanius, i. 13).

Private tutors (φύλακες) were often employed. They looked over the students' notes, “coached” them on the subjects in which they were most interested, and helped them at their exercises. At the end of the year there seems to have been an examination (δοκιμασία).

Freshmen appear to have been subject to a sort of hazing (τελεταί). Gregory, in a funeral address over his friend Basil, recalls some of the memories of their sport with freshmen. We find one of the professors, Proaeresius, asking his class not to haze a new student, Eunapius, because of his feeble health. Sometimes the inferior officers of the university were subjected to similar annoyances, and Libanius tells of one of the tutors who was tossed in a blanket, an exercise known to the Romans as sagatio.

Many of the coincidences between ancient and modern university life are interesting. The following is a quotation from Libanius, who gives an account of how his classes conducted themselves:

“I send my proctor to summon the students to my lecture, but they are in no mood to hurry, though they ought to be. They stay outside to sing songs which we have all heard till we are tired, or else amuse themselves with foolish merriment and jesting. This they do until the lecture has actually begun. Then they come in and keep whispering to one another, to the annoyance of the real students, about the races, or actresses, or opera-dancers; or about some contest either past or future.” And he adds, very naïvely, “I had a very different class of students once. Perhaps some one may say that the fault is mine, and that my lectures are not as good as they used to be; but some of my best students now do not think so; they declare solemnly that I now quite surpass myself; and that while my lectures were always admirable, there is more in them now than there ever was before” (i. 199).

Schools of philosophy and letters similar to those at Athens sprang up at other great cities in the later Roman Empire—at Constantinople, at Rhodes, at Scepsis in the Troad, Massilia (Marseilles), Tarsus, and especially at Alexandria, which last city was definitely designed by the Ptolemies to be a centre of scientific research and investigation, to which end they gave it a magnificent library (see Bibliotheca), handsome buildings, and ample endowments.

Bibliography.—See Compayré, History of Paedagogy (Eng. trans. Boston, 1886); Grasberger, Erziehung und Unterricht im klassischen Alterthum (Würzburg, 1864-80); Eckstein, Lateinischer und griechischer Unterricht (Leipzig, 1887); K. Schmidt, Geschichte der Pädagogik, vol. i. 3d ed. (Cöthen, 1873); W. A. Schmidt, Geschichte der Denk- und Glaubensfreiheit, pp. 404-448 (Berlin, 1847); Mahaffy, Old Greek Education (London, 1882); Capes, University Life in Ancient Athens (London, 1874); Dittenberger, De Ephebis Atticis (Göttingen, 1863); Dumont, Essai sur l'Ephébie Attique (Paris, 1876); Portelette, L'Ephébie en Grèce in L'Instruction Publique for December, 1878; Becker-Göll, Charicles, ii. pp. 19 foll.; Göll's excursus on Becker's Gallus, ii. pp. 61-114; Marquardt, Privatleben, pp. 80 foll.; Saalfeld, Der Hellenismus in Latium (Wolfenbüttel, 1883); Davidson's Aristotle, in the “Great Educators' Series” (N. Y. 1892); Baumeister, Denkmäler des klassischen Alterthums, vol. iii., s. v. “Schulen”; and in this Dictionary the articles Alexandrian School; Athenaeum; Geographica; Grammatica; Gymnasium; Liberales Artes; Logistica; Ludus Litterarius; Philosophica; Rhetorica; Schola; Sophistes.

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