). The upshot
of a controversy which lasted for many years as to the difference between a
and a γυμνάσιον
is that as a general rule the παλαῖστραι
were the ordinary schools kept by
private individuals, where boys were trained and got regular instruction in
physical exercises: while the γυμνάσια
the public establishments to which the grown--up young men, and even adults
452 B; Xen.
, 18), resorted for exercise, but where
there was no regular instruction given except to those who were training
either for the games or to become professional athletes. This distinction
was made by K. F. Hermann in his additions to Becker's
2.186, 189, and has been accepted by Guhl and
Koner,4 256-7, Grasberger (Erziehung und
252), Göll (Charikles,
2.239), Blümner (Privatalterthümer,
and in Baumeister's Denkmäler,
), Mahaffy (Old Greek Education,
p. 25, note), and Iwan Müller (Handbuch der klass.
, 4.451 c, 1887).
Becker in his Charikles
(Eng. trans. p. 294) had maintained
“that the Gymnasium was a place including grounds for running,
archery, javelin-practice, and the like, along with baths and numerous
resorts for those who only sought amusement; while the Palaestra, on the
other hand, was the regular wrestling-school, where, originally,
) and the pancration
were principally taught and practised;” and that “the
distinction which Krause had attempted to establish that the Palaestra
was chiefly for the use of boys is quite untenable.” He bases his
conclusion on Aristoph. Birds 140
παῖς ὡραῖος ἀπὸ γυμνασίου
6.794 D, who wishes for γυμνάσια καὶ διδασκαλεῖα
for girls as well as boys,
proving, he thinks, that γυμνάσια
for boys; on Lucian, Nav.
4, where the young men go to the
palaestra; and on Theophr. Char.
vii. (Jebb), which speaks of
gymnasia where the ephebi practise, which implies, Becker thinks, that there
were gymnasia where the boys practised. But neither in this passage nor in
that from Plato is γυμνάσια
than generically in the sense of “places for exercise,” with no
idea of any distinction from παλαῖστραι
and as to the passage from Aristophanes, Göll (op. cit.
234) shows from Theocritus (Idyll.
61) and Lucian (Amor.
26) that παῖς
is a term that can be applied to youths up to twenty years
of age; while the passage from Lucian represents the young men as setting
out in search of Adimantus, who had gone to the palaestra to look for a
favourite boy, and not with any idea of exercising. But, again, there is the
muchdiscussed passage in Antiphon (Tetral.
2.2, 3; 3, 6),
where a boy (παῖς
), answering a summons
from his παιδοτρίβης,
crosses the range and
is killed by a spear shot by a youth (μειράκιον
), who is said to be μελετῶν
μετὰ τῶν ἡλίκων ἀκοντίζειν ἐπὶ τῷ γυμνασίῳ.
this can be explained by supposing either that the παῖς
was a spectator, or more likely was practising for the
games, and the presence of the παιδοτρίβης
seems an additional proof of this. It is better to explain the passage thus
than to force the sense of ἐπί,
“in the neighbourhood of,” with Grasberger, 1.269.
A striking passage to show that palaestrae were for boys, gymnasia for young
men, is Theocritus (Idyll.
2.80), where the young men Delphis
and Eudamippus come from the gymnasium (ὡς ἀπὸ
γυμνασίοιο καλὸν πόνον ἄρτι λιπόντων
), compared with vv.
8, 97, where Delphis is represented as staying
about the palaestra of Timagetus to see his boy favourite. It also shows
that the palaestrae were called after their proprietor (or perhaps their
founder): compare also the palaestrae of Taureas (Plat.
153 A), Timeas (C. I. A.
2.445, 1. 22),
Antigenes (ib. 446, 1. 61), Sibyrtius (Plut. Alc.
). The master of the palaestra was called παιδοτρίβης
: he was regularly paid by the parents of the
boys he taught, and the conducting a palaestra was an ordinary private
speculation. Sometimes, indeed, we find certain quarters of the town
building palaestrae ([Xen.] Rep. Ath.
2, 10), probably by
subscription, but even these were private undertakings, as the state, as
such, had nothing to do with them. That regular instruction was given in the
palaestrae can be proved from Theophrastus (Char.
where the Loquacious man goes into the παλαῖστραι
and prevents the boys getting on with their [p. 2.313]
work by his endless gossip with the παιδοτρίβαι
As to the actual building,
a palaestra required for
wrestling and jumping a smoothly-floored, fairly large room. Throwing the
spear and discus and running required indeed a very considerable space; but
the palaestra in a strict sense, i. e. place for wrestling, was generally
separated from the course for running (δρόμος
): cf. Hdt. 6.128
, Κλεισθένης καὶ δρόμον καὶ παλαίστρην ποιησάμενος
In the smaller palaestrae there probably was no
only a comparatively small room
for wrestling. This was doubtless the chief exercise practised in the
palaestra; since instruction would be more necessary for wrestling than for
running. Besides this main school-room, there were smaller adjacent rooms:
one for holding oil, with which the wrestlers rubbed themselves; another for
sand, which was necessary to enable them to get grips; and a third for a
bath--unless a river happened to be close by. The elaborate Palaestra
described by Vitruvius (5.11
) is really a Gymnasium,
and is fully treated of under that head.
There are many vase-paintings of athletic exercises; a good example is in
fig. 671. In these
paintings, besides those actually exercising who are naked, there is
generally a clothed bearded figure, who carries a rod in one hand and often
a staff in the other. He is the παιδοτρίβης,
and the rod is used for punishment (cf. Aelian,
Ael. VH 2.6
). Corporal punishment was much
resorted to in ancient schools. Occasionally a statue of a bearded Hermes is
depicted (cf. Gerhard, Auserlesene Vasenbilder,
Along with Apollo (Lucian, Anach.
7), Hermes was the god who
principally presided over athletics (Hor. Carm.
; cf. Orelli, Inscript.
1417), and he was
said by mythologists to have been the father of the goddess Palaestra
2.32, p. 433, Kayser).
was the ordinary trainer in
gymnastics (Plat. Lach.
184 E; Aristoph. Cl. 973
1238), just as the
was the ordinary
schoolmaster in our sense of the word; and the two are often mentioned in
connexion (Plat. Protag.
312 B; Dio Chrys. Or.
13.426, Reiske). He trained all the boys who did not want either to compete
in the games or to become professional athletes. The latter were trained by
who had more special scientific
knowledge, and who also possessed a greater acquaintance with physiology,
which enabled him to tell the effect on the constitution of this or that
exercise (Galen, de sanit. tuend.
2.12, vol. vi. pp.
156-7, ed. Kuhn). The παιδοτρίβης
expected to have a scientific knowledge of the exercises: he had just the
knack and trick (τὴν ἐμπειρίαν τε ἅμα καὶ
Galen, op. cit.
2.9 = p. 143:
cf. Plat. Gorg.
463 A), and was only expected to know how to
do the exercises and to show his pupils how to do them, but not to determine
any special exercises to be assigned to each separate pupil. Just like the
ordinary preparatory schoolmaster of the last generation, he put his pupils
through a traditional course; believing, like the proverbial unscientific
cook, that what was sauce for the goose was sauce for the gander. Indeed the
cook is his very analogue, according to Galen (l.c.
), who says that the παιδοτρίβης
is to the γυμναστὴς
as the cook (we should
perhaps say the apothecary) is to the physician; that is, that he carried
out the directions given by the γυμναστής
and this was the function a παιδοτρίβης
performed when he acted in concert with the γυμναστής.
However, it must be remembered, on the one hand,
that the great mass of Greek boys were never subjected to the training of
: and, on the other, that we
are not to suppose παιδοτρίβαι
routine and rule-of-thumb instruction. We hear that Herodicus of Selymbria
was quite scientific (Plat. Rep.
406 B). But in Plato's time
the distinction of παιδοτρίβης
was not marked, as he ranks now the
one, now the other, on a level with the physician (Crit.
313 E). It gradually grew up in aftertimes (there
is a hint of it in Aristotle, Eth. Nic.
10.9, 15), owing to
the greater number of boys who wished to attain first-rate excellence in
athletics; perhaps we may compare the increasing number of schools which
with us hire cricket professionals. But though the distinction was certainly
made and is much insisted on by Galen and others, still in all the
Catalogues of the ephebi coming from Roman times we almost always find the
given, often the ὑποπαιδοτρίβης,
but there is no mention of the
(See the Catalogues of the
ephebi in C. I. A.
We cannot fix with certainty the details of the instruction. For example, the
time of day at which the physical training took place, whether all
the boys went to their gymnastic exercises in
the afternoon, as Grasberger (op. cit.
maintains, or whether the younger and the older went at different times--the
one in the morning, the other in the afternoon--as Stark and Göll
hold. The arguments on both sides rest on à
grounds; Grasberger insisting on the whole tenor of ancient
life being to work the brains in the morning and the body in the afternoon,
and that such is the natural course, while Stark (notes to Hermann's
§ 36, note 13) is
satisfied with showing against Grasberger that his reference to Plato,
223 A, proves nothing, as that
passage refers to the special occasion of a feast. Certain it is that
children went to some sort of school very early in the morning (Plato,
808 C; Thuc. 7.29
; LUDUS, p. 95).
The actual exercises practised in the palaestra were running, jumping,
wrestling, throwing the spear and the discus--which formed what was called
the Pentathlon [PENTATHLON
boxing and the pancration were mostly confined to the gymnasium (I.
), though in a milder form they
were perhaps practised by the boys too (Blümner in Baumeister, l.c.
). But, besides these athletic exercises, the
was expected to train the
boys in what we would call calisthenics, so that they should walk properly
without any swaggering (σοβεῖν,
31.651, Reiske: cf. Alexis, Frag.
Kock) and generally have a graceful carriage. It is possibly in this respect
that we are to explain what Isocrates says (de Antid.
§ 181) that γυμναστικὴ
is a part
The general aim of the
exercises was that the boys should be fair and strong in body, as the
is represented as saying in
452 B, τὸ ἔργον μού
ἐστι καλούς τε καὶ ἰσχυροὺς τοιεῖν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τὰ
There is a very interesting passage in Clement of
pp. 823, 4, ed. Potter) in which he tells
how the παιδοτρίβης
directed each several
motion of beginners (σχηματίζειν
are the words used); more
forward pupils he instructed by showing (ἐπιδεικνὺς
) himself how the exercise was done, while to the
most advanced pupils he simply told (προστάττοι ἐξ
) what exercise was to be performed.
In early times the state exercised a police control over the palaestrae in
the interests of morality, Solon enacting that the schools should not be
opened before sunrise or kept open after sunset, and forbidding grown men to
visit the palaestrae (Aeschin. Timarch.
9-12): but this law soon fell into abeyance, as may be seen from the
Plato, and from Theophrastus's account of the Loquacious man.
The Greek exercises of the palaestra never took any great hold on the Romans.
They disapproved of them as leading to idleness, and, owing to the nakedness
of those who took part in the exercises, to immorality; and besides, they
were no good for war (Plut. Quaest. Rom.
274, 25, Reiske; Senec. Epist.
88, 18; Plin. Ep. 10.40
). But still they were practised a good deal by the Romans,
sometimes as a preparation for the bath, but generally by young men who
wished for some, but not for very violent, exercise (Hor. Sat.
2.2, 8 if.: cf. Carm.
1.8, 8; 3.12, 7;
and Strabo, 5.236): cf. Marquardt, Privatleben der
But the word “palaestra” has other senses than the one we have
treated of. Haase (in Ersch and Gruber, s. v. Palaestra
) shows that it is used as a special part of a
gymnasium, as (at least in Roman times) synonymous with gymnasium, and also
in a metaphorical sense. That it was used for part of a gymnasium, probably
the part where wrestling was practised, can be proved from Hyperides
ii. p. 404, ed. Didot), Plut. (Vit. X.
841, 27), and perhaps Lucian (Parasit.
51). That it was synonymous with gymnasium in Roman times can be proved from
), who describes a gymnasium and
calls it a palaestra; Plutarch, too (Sympos.
2.4 = 638, 21),
says that the place where all
the athletes exercise
is called a palaestra; and Pausanias tells us (5.15, 8; 6.21, 2) that there
were at Olympia palaestrae especially devoted to athletes. The wealthy
Romans often had private palaestrae or gymnasia added to their houses (Cic. Att. 1.1. 0
5.72, 185). For the metaphorical use of
“palaestra,” as signifying rhetorical academic oratory as
opposed to real public speaking, see Cic. de
, 81; and for elegance in composition as opposed to an
uncouth and uncultivated style, Cic. de
The chief works to consult for further information on the exercises of the
Palaestra are Haase's article on Palaestrik
in Ersch and
Gruber; Krause in Pauly, s. v. Gymnasium;
Grasberger, op. cit.
1.244 to end;
Hermann-Blümner, Gr. Privatalterthümer,
341-351: and Mahaffy, Old Greek Education,
Detailed accounts of the different exercises will be found in separate
articles summarised in the Index.