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lived probably a thousand years before Christ. It taught
one Supreme God, Ahura-Mazda, or Ormazd, Lord All-
knowing, as the creator and sustainer. Opposed to him
there was an evil one, Ahriman. Subordinate to Ormazd
were many good spirits and angels ; and to Ahriman,
many devas, or evil spirits. Ormazd was the head
of the kingdom of light. To him was attributed the ori-
gin of all useful plants and animals, the source of all
good fortune. Ahriman was the head of the kingdom
of darkness. To him were attributed all noxious weeds,
hurtful animals, diseases, and misfortunes. There was


constant conflict between them, but the belief was that
Ormazd would finally prevail, a notable optimism.

The Persians held it to be the duty of men to engage
in the conflict on the side of Ormazd, aiding him by
cultivating the soil, destroying wild animals, caring for
herds, educating children, subjugating evil passions. To
the good was promised a safe passage at the end of life
over the bridge spanning the dark river into an eternity
of happiness. The evil, it was believed, would fall off
in the middle and be swept away into darkness.

Whatever systematic education there was, was un-
dertaken by the state. It was confined to the sons of
the nobles. After six or seven years spent under
the mother's care, they were placed in training at the
king's court or the courts of the lesser nobles. Their
preceptors were state officials distinguished for their
dignity of character and their services to the state, and

There was no effort made to teach the boys to read
and write. Their training was mainly physical and
General moral. They were exercised in running,

Education. slinging stones, shooting with the bow, and
throwing the javelin. When seven years of age they
were taught to ride. Their horseback training was of
the best. They leaped on and off a fast running horse.
They practised with bow and javelin on horseback until
they could use both with accuracy while the animal was
at full speed. To prepare them for military expeditions,
they were taken on hunting excursions, sometimes to
considerable distances. On these excursions they were
subjected to long marches, extremes of heat and cold,


and scanty provisions. This training rendered the boys
vigorous and active.

Great pains were taken to cultivate in them the virtues
of courage, truthfulness, gratitude, justice, and self-con-
trol, the virtues of a manly spirit. Men v^^ho had won
distinction in the service of the state through the exer-
cise of these virtues were rewarded in the presence of
the boys. In their presence, too, were visited upon
offenders the degradations and punishments due to a
lack of these qualities.

The priests instructed the boys orally in the tenets
of their religion.

At fifteen a boy was supposed to enter the period of
youth. He was then enrolled in the army, though his
training Avas continued until he was twenty. He was
subject to military service till fifty.

Intellectual education was left to the Magi, the heredi-
tary priests of the country. It seems to Education of
have included mainly a knowledge of their the Priests.
religious writings, some phases of philosophy, and some
astronomy. Their sacred literature is known as the

It is natural to look for noble results from such train-
ing as the Persians received. It is possible, too, to trace
such results in the records of that ancient life, but they
where not sufficient to give permanence to
the power and vigor of the race. The cul-
ture was too narrow. There was no effort to cultivate
the various mechanical arts. The Persians depended
on the conquered nations to supply the products of
these. There was also, as already noted, a general


absence of the broadening and refining power of literary

Another serious oversight was the failure to instruct
the main body of the people. This same oversight
manifested itself in an exaggerated form in the manage-
ment of the empire generally. The conquered people
were always treated as tributary states. They were
never taught to consider themselves parts of Persian
nationality. Even in war they were organized for battle
by nations.

There was, however, a weakness in the empire which
no education could have overcome. The country lacked
geographical unity and compactness. This source of
weakness was all the more dangerous because of the
effect it had on the rulers of the provinces. No matter
how carefully these had been trained in truthfulness,
justice, and gratitude, the size and remoteness of their
provinces tended to foster dishonesty, intrigue, and re-
bellion. When to these unfavorable circumstances is
added the fact that the conquest of wealth and power
generates pride and luxury, it is not surprising to read
that the great kingdom went to pieces suddenly, inglori-
ously, almost ridiculously.


Zoroaster ...... {probably) 1000 b.c.

Defeat of Medes by Cyrus 558 B.C.

Capture of Babylon by Cyrus ..... 538 b.c.

Battle of Arbela and End of Empire ... 331 b.c.


Geography is not history, yet he is but a superficial
historian who fails to recognize the vital relationship of
geographical features to human distribution, activity, and
character. The thought was crude that led the Egyptians
to worship the Nile and turn the main entrances of their
massive temples towards the river, but it was by no
means ridiculous or contemptible. The Nile made Egypt,
and made the Egyptians, too, one of the oldest of all the
nations whose records survive. Younger nations that
contributed much to the world's expanding life received
many of their first lessons in civilization by the banks of
the Nile. From there the Phoenicians brought many of
the treasures of culture which they so generously dis-
tributed, and the stamp of Egyptian genius was evident
upon important religious beliefs of the Greeks and upon
much of their learning and art.

Egyptian history traverses a long span of years. The
fourth dynasty commenced with the rule of Mena, 4235
B.C., according to some authorities. Under this dynasty
there was a developed civilization with dis-

• L rni • • History.

tinctly marked classes of society. The ongi-
nality and skill displayed in the art works of the period
indicate a high degree of intelligence and taste. The
last native ruler lost his throne 340 b.c. Great works
mark glorious periods between. It would appear that



there was considerable educational activity throughout
this long series of years, and it did not altogether cease
when the last king ended his reign.

The genius of the people was mainly practical. They
developed remarkable skill in the administration of pub-
Genius of the ^^^ ^^^ private afifairs. They were among the
People. most dexterous weavers of antiquity. Prob-

ably four thousand years before Christ they cut excellent
statues out of stone that is so hard as to test the tem-
per of the best modern tools. They manufactured all
sorts of glass articles, coloring them richly. They made
artificial gems so like the natural stones as to deceive an
expert, and jewelry of most elegant design. They were
also either very intelligent or very patient engineers.
Upon lofty pedestals they placed monolithic shafts
seventy and more feet in height. In their temples they
erected gigantic columns ten feet in diameter and rested
upon them enormous stone slabs, sometimes forty feet
in length, to form the roofs of the structures.

In two respects did the Egyptian mind transcend its
practical tendencies. These were the wondering awe
with which it contemplated the mysteries of life, and the
solemn prominence it gave to the thought of death.
The former found expression in temples so vast and
majestic in proportion as to still rank among the world's
wonders, and the latter in the pyramids, the most
stupendous funeral monuments ever erected by man.

In ancient Egyptian society there were two classes

clearly distinguished from the rest of the

population, the soldiers and the priests. They

were not strictly castes, as there were no laws regulating


their marriages, and they were only partly hereditary ;
but they enjoyed very special privileges. The priests
were distinctively the cultured class, and had almost
exclusive control of the higher education.

There was, apparently, no state provision for the edu-
cation of the masses. There were, however, a sufficient
number of private teachers and private ele- Elementary
mentary schools in the different communities Education.
to teach rudimentary reading, writing, and arithmetic to
the children of such artisans and tradespeople as might
be ambitious to advance them socially or to prepare
them well for their future occupations.

The office of scribe most generally tempted the ambi-
tion of people belonging to the middle class. Scribes
were in great demand for the copying of sacred manu-
scripts and the writing of official documents and records.
It is likely, too, that the business transactions of the
larger merchants required much writing.

To become scribes, boys after leaving the elementary
school placed themselves in charge of scribes in some
office. The first part of their course of training con-
sisted in copying and committing to memory legal
formulas, letters, and accounts. The matter to be
copied was traced on wood or pieces of stone, and
the pupil miitated it with a stylus on wooden tablets
covered with stucco. He copied and recopied, and the
master indicated the corrections on the margin. Later,
the pupil wrote on papyrus. There were also exercises
taken from books on morals, religious works, and tales.
Many tablets with such exercises and corrections have
been found in the rubbish piles of Egypt. At a later


period in the course the pupil was put to composing
formulas and letters. The higher training of the scribe
was received at a temple school. There he was taught
arithmetic, administration, law, and the three kinds of
writing, demotic, hieratic, and hieroglyphic. It seems to
have been possible for a scribe to advance to the priest-

The colleges for the higher professional learning were
connected with the temples. This learning was confined
Higher mainly to members of the priest class. There

Education. ^as Special training for the architects of the
sacred edifices, and for the engineers and physicians.

The medical knowledge of the Egyptians was ex-
tremely crude. Whatever skill physicians had in the
treatment of diseases was strangely mixed with magic
and exorcisms. There were, however, specialists for
different diseases, and great importance was attached to
the profession because the physicians embalmed the dead.

The passion for building and the annual overflow of
the Nile developed remarkable engineering skill. Sur-
veyors were in demand to determme boundary-lines
obliterated by the inundations. So the two facts made
the Egyptians the earliest notable geometers and arithme-
ticians. Twelve theorems have been found on a single
papyrus. In these branches of knowledge they taught
the Greeks much, but they never themselves succeeded
in giving scientific form to their mathematical knowledge.
They worked out each theorem and each arithmetical
process separately.

The architects and engineers must also have had con-
siderable practical knowledge of mechanics.


The education of the priests embraced a thorough
knowledge of their religion, of ritual and ceremonies, of
morals, law, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, rhetoric,
and the different forms of writing. Among the ancients
they had great reputation for learning. They devised a
calendar which w^as the basis of that adopted by Julius
Cassar. The study of astronomy, like that of mathe-
matics, received impetus from the overflow of the river,
as it was desirable to know the time for the recurrence
of the phenomenon.

It is probable that some of their religious conceptions
were of a high order, but the highest of them, as well
as other portions of their learning, were treated as mys-
teries and reserved for the priests of superior rank.

The principal colleges of the priests were located at
Memphis, Thebes, and Heliopolis,

The literature created and studied by the cultured
class was extensive. Besides technical treatises, it con-
sisted of letters, books of travel, novels,

. The Literature.

poems, and moral and religious works. The
best known of their religious works is the Booh of the
Dead, containing texts, prayers, and incantations to
help the soul in its journey through the underworld to
the court of Osiris. Some of the poems and love-stories
are fairly good, but the literary merit of most of their
works is but moderate.

The best features in the culture of the upper classes
did not descend to the masses of the people. Aside
from the feeling of awe and reverence inspired by the
great temples and the overflow of the Nile, the reli-
gious education of the masses was not very elevating.


Many of their religious ideas appear to have been de-
rived from a primitive form of animal w^orship. For the
Concluding priests, the sacred animals represented attri-
Remarks. butes of the deities ; but for the great body
of the people, they probably always were gods. Even
modern Egyptians are grossly superstitious.

In contemplating the surviving monuments of the
achievements of this very ancient people, it is easy to
exaggerate some things, to belittle others, but there
always results a lasting impression of a solemn and
wonderful grandeur. The shadows of the pyramids and
of the pillars of Kamak rest upon the student.


One important chapter in the history of education has
not yet been written. A very interesting one it no doubt
would be. It is the history of the old Semitic kingdoms
of Babylon and Assyria. As yet we know it The cider
only conjecturally from its results. Whether Semites.

the teachers were priests or laymen, they must have
been highly respected. Assyria had a "god of learn-

In both kingdoms were large libraries. The literature
was written on clay tablets, afterwards burned. Some
of these libraries were catalogued and open to the read-
ing public. That of Erech was so large and famous that
Erech was known as the "City of Books." Asshur-
bani-pal's library at Nineveh, it is estimated, contained
ten thousand books. Large portions of these old libra-
ries have been recovered from the ruins and deciphered.
One work is a treatise on astronomy dating back to 3800
B.C. There are lexicons and grammars in great number,
and treatises on geography, plants, animals, and arith-
metic. There are also many religious writings, poems,
myths, fables, and proverbs.

Besides the literature, there have been found many
reports of officers, treaties, contracts, deeds, wills, and
mortgages, all bearing testimony to the fact that the
schoolmaster was abroad in the land.



More directly interesting than these older Semitic
peoples are the Hebrews. The development of He-
brew nationality and the maintenance of Hebrew racial
characteristics and eminence are the mira-
cles of history. The nation was cradled in
Egypt and received its tutelage in Egyptian bondage, yet
one of the most notable facts of history is the marked
contrast between Hebrew and Egyptian religion and
social organization. The race has passed through many
pathetic and apparently overwhelming vicissitudes, enjoy-
ing comparatively brief periods of independent national
life ; and yet it seems to be as distinct and vigorous as
ever, and furnishes powerful leaders of modern thought
and action. The Hebrew religion was the one definitely
monotheistic and strictly ethical religion of antiquity,
and through Christianity it has given inspiration and
character to nearly all that is noblest and purest in the
highest types of modern civilization.

The history of the people betw^een the exodus from
Egypt and the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and
the consequent dispersion of the race naturally divides
itself into three main periods. The first extends to the
coronation of Saul, 1095 b.c. ; the second, to
the beginning of the Babylonish captivity, 586
B.C. ; and the third, to the time of the siege, 70 a.d.
This division is very convenient in the study of Hebrew
education, because its different phases coincide closely
with these periods.

The great central fact in Hebrew life, history, and liter-
ature is the belief that God is the creator and ruler of
the universe, and the loving preserver of his people.


The Hebrew learned in his religion to regard law as the
expression of the will of God, This gave him two funda-
mental ideas which even a cultured Greek or


Roman could scarcely, if at all, comprehend, Features of the
the ideas of righteousness and sin. These civilization.
ingrained into his life a sense of individual responsibility
to a living God whose "judgments are sure and righteous

The religion that taught the Hebrew so to exalt God,
in the process exalted him, placing a value and dignity
upon the individual such as no other Oriental people
ever knew. "And God said," the old account of the
creation reads, " Let us make man in our image, after
our likeness." It also glorified the family, giving a new
sanctity to fatherhood and motherhood ; and the degra-
dation that was the lot of woman in Persia, India, and
China was not known in Israel.

With the Hebrew, too, patriotism and religion were
inseparable. He was taught to recognize the hand of God
in all the events of history. All the bright pages in the
history of his people were appeals at once to his patriotic
enthusiasm and to his religious zeal.

In the period succeeding the exodus the Israelites
maintained a sort of tribal confederacy. The organization
was free and rather loose. The "judges" ruled Domestic
by consent of the people. In this time educa- Education.
tion of the body of the people was made the concern of
the family. Fathers and mothers, fathers in particular,
were made the teachers of the children by commandment.

"Hear, Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:"
was the preamble to the law. " And thou shalt love,"


the law ran, "the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And
these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in
thine heart : and thou shalt teach them diligently unto
thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in
thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and
when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And
thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and
on thy gates." (Deut. vi. 4-9.) It is similarly stated in
the eleventh chapter.

A study of both chapters shows that the love of God
was to be based on a knowledge of the great events in
Hebrew history. These were to be studied as revela-
tions of His power and His love for the nation. The
"these words" of the commandment were particularly
the ceremonial and moral laws which were to govern
the whole life of the Israelite.

How generally the commandment was obeyed in that
early time is not known, nor is it known when writing
became general. Lapses into idolatry give evidence of
occasional neglect of the law, but the time never was
when its observance somewhere did not preserve the
nobler life of Israel. No matter what other educational
agencies were afterwards introduced, the law requiring
domestic instruction was still considered binding.

During this period, what may be termed the higher
education was confined mainly to the priests. -.As long,
as they continued in charge of the national
worship they were, generally speaking, care-
fully educated in history and the law. This included a
knowledge of the civil law and administration. All was


included in religion. It is likely, too, that they were
instructed somewhat in the rudiments of astronomy and
mathematics because of the movable feasts.

There came a time when the highest intellectual and
spiritual life of the people was represented by the proph-
ets. The period may be regarded as commencing with
Samuel and extending to the time of the Babylonish
captivity. The prophets sometimes were priests, but
generally laymen. They frequently lived schools of the
in communities and established schools. In Prophets.
these schools were studied the law, national history,
music, and poetry. The great prophets created for the
people ,the noblest of their literary monuments. They
were preachers of righteousness, and endeavored to
broaden and deepen the popular conceptions of God.
Some of them, like Elijah, made heroic struggle against
the encroachments of foreign idolatry and vices upon
the national virtues and religion. They not only pre-
dicted the coming of the "Great Teacher," Jesus of
Nazareth, but they also anticipated some of his pro-
foundest and sweetest declarations.

During the Babylonish captivity there arose a new
class of teachers for Israel. These were the stribes.
Originally they were copyists of the Scrip-
tures. Occasionally they were priests as and the

well. Upon the return from captivity they Rabbins,
were organized, by Ezra, as interpreters of the law.
This was one of the results of the great religious revival
wrought by the captivity. Gradually all authority in
religious questions was vested in the scribes. They
assumed charge of the traditional supplements of the



law, they became teachers of the masses, and had chaise
of the administration of the law. They also established
high schools in Hebrew learning. The heads of these
schools were known as rabbins. In them were studied,
in addition to Hebrew religion and law, astronomy and
mathematics, and, as early as 300 b.c, Greek literature
and philosophy. After the destruction of the temple
and the dispersion of Israel, the scribes, or rabbles,
superseded the priests.

In connection with this new effort to instruct the
people there grew up, soon after the return from Baby-
lon, a new institution that spread over Palestine and
exercised untold influence upon the masses of the people.
The It was the synagogue. The law finally read

Synagogue. ^j^^^ there should be a synagogue wherever
at least ten Jews lived. The synagogue was presided
over by a body of elders and a ruler chosen from
among the people. These formed the local sanhedrim.
Though the synagogue was a place of worship, it per-
formed some of the offices of a school.

The services of the synagogue were held on the Sab-
bath and feast days. For the benefit of the peasants
there were services also on market days, Monday and
Thursday. There were no clergy in charge. One of the
elders or any other competent person might be selected
to conduct the services. These consisted in the recital
of a creed, prayer, reading of a certain portion of the law
and a portion of the prophets, exposition of the Scripture
by the leader, and the blessing.

In the course of time the Hebrews supplemented the
synagogue service with a Bible school for adults and


children. This was held in the synagogue in the after-
noon. The teachers seem generally to have been scribes.
The Scriptures, especially the law, were The Bibie
studied and largely committed to memory. EiementT*^
The understanding of the lessons was de- Education.
veloped by a masterful system of question and answer.
Questions were put and answered by both pupils and
teachers. This explains much that is characteristic of
the gospel records of Jesus.

The synagogue Bible schools are supposed to have
existed as early as 80 b.c. In close connection with
them there came to be established elementary day
schools. It is likely that these were common before the
time of our Saviour. They became compulsory in 64
A.D. The law required one teacher when the number of
pupils did not exceed twenty-five, two when the number
exceeded forty. The pupils from five to ten studied the
old Scriptures ; from ten to fifteen, the Mishna. If pupils
continued their studies beyond this, they applied them-
selves to the Gemara. The Mishna is the traditional
oral law, and the Gemara is the body of comments upon
the Mishna. They together constitute the Talmud.
This vast literature was held in memory and so trans-
mitted. The Mishna was not committed to writing until

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Online LibraryEllwood Leitheiser KempHistory of education → online text (page 3 of 23)