Joseph Kinmont Hart.

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the changes of social conditions. The question which Crito
asked Socrates had, by the time of Aristotle with his fifth
answer, no more than a theoretical interest. Aristotle was
not, in reality, answering that question at all. The Greek
world had passed away; Alexander's brief empire of the
world was passing likewise; Rome, looming larger in the
West, was still unsuspected of world-ambitions. The com-
mon life of the world, that world of work by which the
philosophers are fed, had settled its own perplexing ques-
tions in its own groping ways. The life of the intellect, at
least of Platonic ideas, was not for it! The intellectual
greatness of the period from Socrates to Aristotle was not
continued in the next centuries. The world settled down
to the task of digesting and assimilating the materials
already discovered. Rather, that was one of its interests,
but another problem was keenly felt also, as we shall see.

The Dominance of the Platonic Conception of the
World. Though the intellectual life of the world still cen-
tered at Athens for another century at least, the period
following Aristotle is called the Alexandrian, because the
most striking influences and the most distinctive work came
from Alexandria in Egypt. This age was a period of "fill-
ing in" of the details of the great pictures that had been
worked out by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Socrates, of
course, was but a memory; Aristotle rapidly passed from
sight; the dominant mood of the age is a Platonic mood.



There is need of a world beyond the world of the senses,
a world of knowledge, of intellect, of ideas, into which the
superior individual can retreat to find sanctuary from the
storms of the world! This Platonic world of knowledge
and ideas became the object of exploration by all the intel-
ligence of the times.

But there was a great dearth of master minds. Barren-
ness and pedantry are almost completely the marks of the
period. There was much research, but almost no creative
activity of mind. Reverence for the old masters destroyed
intellectual independence, producing formalism in place of
freedom. There was almost no new writing of a construc-
tive sort, but endless editions of the works of the mas-
ters, such as grammars, commentaries, and expositions,
appeared. In Alexandria various languages and cultures
came into close contact. Comparative studies arose.
Translations from one language to another were made,
among them the translation of the Hebrew Bible into the
Greek, giving that version known ever since as the "Sep-
tuagint." Later there were "accommodations" between
these various cultures, out of which arose some of the
strange philosophies and religious and mystical sects of
the Roman times.

Development of Sects. The teachings of the masters
and the contacts of cultures brought about the development
of philosophic "schools," each with its ideal of life. It
must be noted that the ideal of the age was not man as a
member of a social order, but a sort of abstract, individual
man. What were the characteristics of this ideal individ-
ual? These are, of course, educational as well as social
ideals. Among the Greeks two such ideals appeared.
First, the Stoic sage. For the sage the natural world is the
expression of reason. Hence conformity with nature is
conformity with reason ; convention is good when it is nat-


ural and reasonable. "Keep the straight course, following
your own nature and the nature of the universe; and the
way of both is one." "Live with the gods. He lives with
the gods who ever follows his mind and reason." This is a
variation of the Platonic conception, but only a variation.

The second of these later Greek ideals was that of the
Epicurean philosopher: "The end of our living is to be
free from pain (that is, from all useless desires) and fears.
And when once we have reached this, all the tempest of
the soul is laid." Hence all systems, whether of science,
ethics, or religion, that tend to arouse and encourage men's
fears or desires must be evil. The most complete freedom
from desire, from fear, from ambition, from pain, is the
most complete life. Compare with this Plato's "justice"
as set forth in the Republic.

In addition to these two dominant ideals of the Greek
part of the Alexandrian world, it is worth while to call at-
tention to another ideal that developed among the He-
brews, the "Suffering Servant of Jehovah," since at a
later time this ideal comes in upon the Greco-Roman world
with conquering power. That ideal is expressed in the
well-known words: "He was wounded for our transgres-
sions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement
of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are
healed." A more intelligible statement of the same ideal
is found in a later formulation: "He that would save
his life must lose it ; he that is greatest among you, let him
become the servant of all." This conception becomes the
most effective weapon in the later struggles of mankind to
escape from the iron rigors of the Roman Empire.

The Fate of the Common Life. The intellectualisms and
the scholarship of Alexandria cut the world in two, into
horizontal strata. An upper level of "superior" minds is
busy with the culture of the world, its knowledge, its intel-


lectual interests. These build citadels of culture where
they dwell apart from the world of common interests. At
the same time, however, they must be fed and clothed.
Hence on a lower level the workers must perform their
allotted share, finding their satisfactions in their work and
in their religion which promises them more or less of a
happier time in some other world, or at least sweet forget-
fulness in death. Now and then, perhaps, the workers
found help in some crumb of culture that fell from the high
tables of learning. But all too frequently common life, de-
nied its share in the intelligence "which makes men free,"
falls a prey to all forms of religious doctrines which, while
they interest and even soothe, may also destroy. The Alex-
andrian Age gradually witnessed the growth of that terri-
ble mingling of religious cults, good, bad, false, true,
vicious, indifferent, which finally included everything
known, and which in Athens added even one more touch
a statue to "The Unknown God."

What could the education of the common life be in the
midst of such developments ? Little beyond the practice of
daily toil. Socrates had promised something more, some
share in the life of intelligence. But Plato had consigned
the common mass to the life of unilluminated toil; and in
the dominance of the Platonic view of the world through all
this period there was no hope for the common life, save
such hope as ever lies in work. The discipline of centu-
ries of work will prepare the workers for the democracy
of the far future.

The Growth of Science. At Alexandria some consider-
able work in the physical sciences was attempted. It is in
the Alexandrian Age that Euclid laid the foundations of
geometry, Apollonius began the study of conic sections,
Archimedes carried through some still-famous experiments
in physics, Eratosthenes computed the diameter of the


earth, Hero and Philo worked out some fundamental prin-
ciples in dynamics, and Hipparehus laid the foundations of
that ultimate knowledge of the universe which was summed
up in the cosmography of Ptolemy. These were real
achievements, but they seem to lie outside the currents of
the times, to wait unnoticed for a thousand years.

The Age of Schools. On the whole, it was a juiceless
age, a text-book age, an age of endless repetition of the au-
thoritative statements of the masters, an age of schools. It
was an age in which a type of conventionalized intellect
was "made to order" out of the books, the apotheosis of
Plato. Education came under the control of the state, at
least in Athens. In Athens were the older schools, the
Academy of Plato, the Lyceum of Aristotle, the Stoa of the
Stoics, the school of Isocrates the rhetorician, and finally, at
a later date (probably in the second century A. D.), the uni-
versity, which was really but the integration and extension
of these older schools. In Alexandria the great library
grew to amazing proportions ; with it developed the mu-
seum. But as we have seen that formalism was the char-
acteristic of the age, we need not be surprised that the
library, with its endless opportunities for copying authori-
ties, was the central factor in the ''University of Alexan-

In these schools grammar, rhetoric, logic and philosophy,
now become little else than endless dialectic, were the
studies. The basis of most of this development for four
hundred years was reverence for the written word. Hence
the age appears as one of the least creative in all history.
But it performed a great service in the furtherance of the
general Platonic organization of civilization; it molded
men's minds to the belief in authority, the fixed intellectual
and moral order. It was a step toward the complete or-
ganization of the civilized world into one gigantic system.


It was educating the race to get ready for the all-inclusive

The Coming of Rome. As Rome rises more and more
into prominence in the West, with her growing dominance
of the political horizon, with her growing sense of world-
empire and organized civic life, she comes to seem the em-
bodiment of all authority, all system, all organization, all
control. She may even be (who knows?) that ultimate
political order, preexistent, eternal, the idea of social or-
ganization, for which Plato longed. It is true that for a
moment and instinctively, racially, the Greeks fought for
their independence from Roman control. But one battle
was enough to convince them of the uselessness of the
struggle. Corinth was destroyed in 146 B.C., and the story
of Greece as an independent nation or people came to an
end. But Greek thought had been so long dominated by
Platonic conceptions that Greece soon found herself quite
at home in the social and political structure of the Romans,
and she turned with vigor to the intellectual conquest of
her conquerors. In this she was largely successful. What
Rome lacked of power to theorize, Greece supplied; what
Greece lacked of practicality, Rome supplied. The Roman
political and social order furnished the security, the system,
which made an admirable background for the actualization
of that empire of control which Plato found to be the ideal
of the universe. Rome furnished the necessary social
structure out of which could be built up those larger folk-
ways which should, in their good time, once more reduce
the round of life to fixed and rigid routine. Greece fur-
nished the intellectual content and the method, the logic
and the sanctions, by which those larger folkways should
be organized. Caesar was the political organizer, Plato the
intellectual; and when Plato failed because he was too
human to follow Roman authority further, Aristotle (as we


have noted) came to the rescue and gave the Intellectual
help that carried the effort through to full conclusion.

We must now turn to a survey of the Roman contribu-
tions to this process of reconstructing the world.



Education Under the Primitive Roman Folkways. As

in all primitive communities, education in early Rome was
provided for in the customs, habits, and traditions of the
folkways. Rome began as a small group among hostile
neighboring groups. Her folkways developed out of these
conditions, and her education repeated her folkways.
Preservation of the group, keeping unchanged the customs,
habits, and methods that had made her life successful so far,
training of the youth in the preservation of the folkways,
in military efficiency, and in the work by which the group
lived these activities made up the life and education.
Obedience, reverence, industry, frugality, seriousness,
courage, and eventual gravity were virtues native to Roman
soil and Roman development.

Children learned to read and write, if at all, in their
own homes in the early period; and they learned the stir-
ring military songs and ballads of common folklore. Girls
learned the tasks of the housewife in their own homes ; boys
probably largely followed in the footsteps of their fathers
as to occupations. One thing seems sure: In the early
centuries, while the Roman folkways remained intact, in-
dustry and the other substantial civic virtues became or-
ganized into the character of all the children. Constantia,
constant firmness; virtus, the fortitude and strength of a
man; pietas, reverence for the gods and for the folkways;
modestas, self -repression ; and gravitas, the dignity fitting



the man and the citizen these were the five great virtues
of manhood.

There were no schools in the modern sense of the word.
About the middle of the fifth century B. c. Rome came upon
what may be called the "Oriental level" of her develop-
ment. The so-called ' ' Twelve Tables ' ' of the law were writ-
ten down; the folkways became more definite and fixed.
From that time on education became more institutional,
with these Tables as the curriculum. 1 It may be seen from
these Tables that the Eoman was a complex character. He
enjoyed the conflicts of the courts; he lacked imagination
and idealisms; he was practical, systematic; he was ex-
tremely pious, in the f olkway sense ; he was lofty-minded in
thinking about his own community, brave in the presence
of community dangers, obedient to the death when duty
called, but he was at times coarse, rapacious, and cruel to
his captured enemies and to those who did not belong to his
own group, a virtue he shared with most primitive peoples.

Later Educational Developments. We note two main
tendencies in the Eoman character, viz., the tendency to-
ward magnanimity of mind, and the tendency toward
cruelty, coarseness, and rapacity. The development of
Roman history helps each of these tendencies along. The
coming of Greek culture tends to the development of the
finer qualities, at first at least ; but the rise of imperial am-
bitions and the growth of world-power tends to develop the
other side. Let us see.

In the middle of the third century B. c. Greek influence
began to be felt in Rome. Greek literature was introduced
in translations and Latin literature was stimulated thereby.
The Greek school soon began to take the place of the older
Roman Ludus, or play-school. Greek teachers, mostly
slaves, came to Rome, and the Greek language was studied.

1 For these tables see Monroe : "Source Book of the History of
Education," pp. 334-45.


Rhetoricians and philosophers also came or were devel-
oped, and in such numbers as to frighten the senate. In
161 B.C. and again in 92 B.C. efforts were made to stem the
tide of this Greek influence and turn back the education
of the people into the old folkway currents. "Our ances-
tors have ordained what instruction it is fitting their chil-
dren should receive and what schools they should attend.
These novelties, contrary to the customs and instructions
of our ancestors, we neither approve nor do they seem to us
good." But the fight was a hopeless oiie, and though the
progress of Greek culture was slow, it was sure ; and in the
imperial period it completely triumphed as the method of
school education.

But in the meanwhile Roman energy was sweeping the
neighboring nations into the protecting care of the growing
empire. Roman courage, practicality, and imaginativeness
made the Roman armies invincible. Rome drew on toward
being the ruler of the world. Her practical courage and
legal sense helped to organize discordant elements into a
sort of imperial unity. Using brutality where that was
needed, or practical intelligence where that was needed, she
slowly conquered the world, brought to the endless ages of
warfare the experience of the ' ' Pax Romana, ' ' won a world-
wide peace by "fighting for it," and "civilized" whole peo-
ples in a day by handing down her ready-made civilization
from above. When it became apparent that Roman politi-
cal machinery made such an admirable setting for the Pla-
tonic culture of the Greeks, protest against Greek culture
came to an end. Greek logic furnished the intellectual
weapons for the justification of these Roman methods of
civilizing the world ; and Roman legions were the objective
embodiment of the absolute sway of Greek culture. The
Roman army was an ideal representation of Plato's "mili-
tary class," who were to take orders from the philosophers


and to keep the common masses in control. To be sure, it
can scarcely be claimed that many of the Roman emperors
fulfilled Plato's ideal of a philosopher, but in the empire
there was a governing class which gave orders to the sol-
diery, and this impersonal military class, fully freed from
all personal qualities, did keep the masses of men under
control for the most part. This whole task of organization
and administration of the empire was no small accomplish-
ment, for the government was gradually extending its sway
over wide and far-reaching areas. Within these were found
many sorts of geographical condition, with many kinds of
folkways, great variety of more or less localized industries
and occupations, with their accompaniment of varying de-
sires and prejudices, many languages and many religions.
All of which had to be appreciated, largely coordinated,
and administered from one capital under one general con-
ception of law. It is true that this administrative concep-
tion of the law was rather Stoic than Platonic. That is to
say, the Roman found his basis for the conception of a uni-
versal empire with a common law in the Stoic conception
that nature, and especially human nature, embodied a ' ' nat-
ural law of reason ' ' which, when fully understood and ap-
plied, would give the world completely organized social
order. This conception is, however, just a variant of the
Platonic view; it is Platonism toned down to the needs of
practical administration. At any rate, whether Platonic or
Stoic, the Greeks furnish the organizing intelligence and
the sense of an ideal and all-embracing moral and social
order which the statesman must rule; the Romans furnish
the practical mechanisms of discipline and control, and the
actual working rules of the law. In these two aspects of
experience, theory and practice, are laid the foundations
of the Greco-Roman Empire, ruler and arbiter of the world
in social custom, morality, religion, and education.


Schools of the Imperial Period. Just as back of the
Greco-Roman program of conquest with its "benevolent as-
similation" of alien peoples stood the Roman legions with
their power to do what the governing powers determined,
so back of the Greco-Roman program of civilization stood
the "schoolmaster," or intellectual taskmaster. Wherever
there was a school, there the arbitrary materials of Greek
learning were imposed, or the no less intellectual materials
of Latin culture. Of course, just as in old China, some
youths learned these lessons. But the point is that educa-
tion was simply conceived as a means of continuing the vic-
torious progress of the Empire. Individuals, provinces,
peoples, nations these count for nothing as against the
Empire. The Empire must prevail ; and though there were
periods of good-natured tolerance when it was considered
that any one who was not against the Empire was for it,
yet whenever occasion arose the Empire could deal harshly
with its rebellious subjects and did not hesitate to destroy
in order to establish control. For instance, take the de-
struction of the Jewish nation in 70 A.D. In the case of
this nation refusal to accept some little share of Roman
culture brought about the final catastrophe.

The Ludus was the lowest school, dating from pre-Hel-
lenic times perhaps. Reading and writing were taught, and
some simple arithmetic with simple counters, etc. The
method of teaching was the purely memorizing sort, in-
cluding the imitating of the teacher. A militaristic sort of
brutality pervaded the schools, and the teachers were noted
more for their ability to "discipline" than for their power
to teach.

In the school of the Grammaticus foundations were laid in
literature, the writings of the historians, perhaps, and some
simple elements of very rudimentary science, including the
little that was known of mathematics (which was very little


and very unsatisfactory because the Roman system of no-
tation made progress practically impossible). We may add
to these items, perhaps, a little music, with here and there
a trifle of elementary philosophy or dialectic.

The schools of rhetoric carried on the process, for a few
selected students, into the training for public life, into the
law courts, the forum, etc. Gradually the "orator" came
to be the highest ideal of the educated person; the term is
rather inclusive and is not always clearly defined. Cicero
(106-43 B.C.) first clearly set forth the ideal. For him the
orator probably includes all that Cicero himself was phi-
losopher, rhetorician, soldier, statesman, patriot, historian,
and poet. Later Quintilian (35-100 (?) A.D.), himself a
teacher, set forth in great detail the same ideal, the orator,
who was to be identical with the cultivated man of affairs
and broad public interests. These conceptions of the edu-
cated man represent the high tides of theorizing about edu-
cation in the Roman Empire, at least in the West. They
never became effective in the actual educational procedures
of the Empire. The state controlled all education, and these
ideals are far too liberal for the mood of the times. The
actual social situation made a liberalized conception of edu-
cation impossible of application. The imperial ideal and
organization, fighting with savage or half -civilized peoples
on many frontiers, could have little sympathy with any-
thing liberal. Imperialism and a liberal education are not

But if a liberal program had been possible in practice,
there was no such program to be had. Psychology was not
yet prepared to analyze the problem of education. The
only conception of method was the imperial one of force,
and in a mechanical age the conception of the processes by
which the liberalizing of intelligence and the humanizing of
society go on was utterly lacking. Socrates had proposed,


it will be remembered, such a humanized education in Ath-
ens generations ago, but there had been no room for it in
Athens and there was less room for it in Rome. No, the
world will wait many generations more for the full ex-
ploration of the processes by which a liberal education
comes to be an education, in which machinery, habit, custom,
tradition, folkway, can be thwarted and the freed spirit can
come into its own. Certainly in Rome such understanding
will not arise, though maybe even in some distant part of
the Empire some hint of it may appear. Who can tell ?

But Rome is just Rome, extremely earnest and precise in
her conceptions of law and in working out the consequences
of law. The Romans were good-natured, for the most part,
in their submission to law. At the same time they were
"cold, calculating, selfish, without enthusiasm or the power
of awakening enthusiasm," "proud, overbearing, cruel,
rapacious," yet "distinguished by self-control and an iron
will" and with few "graces of character." The Roman
Empire was the instrument of a great organizing movement.
The known world was brought together, mastered by Ro-
man armies, controlled by Roman laws, bound together by
great Roman roads. Ages, races, peoples, became ac-
quainted within the Empire. The world was Romanized
on its political side and Platonized on its intellectual side.
This is a significant fact. We shall see more of its signifi-
cance later. Now we must turn back for the purpose of
summing up the general educational situation as it existed
in the Greco-Roman Empire in the early centuries of the
Christian Era, while the Christian movement was still
merely a local disturbance in a remote corner of a distant
province. We must see the nature of the Greco-Roman or-
ganization more clearly, in order that we may appreciate
more fully the next great stage in the development of the

Online LibraryJoseph Kinmont HartDemocracy in education; → online text (page 8 of 31)