Sister Mary Katharine McCarthy.

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_jme Motives in Pagan Education
Compared with the Christian Ideal

A Study in the Philosophy of Education




Sisters of St. Benedict, Duluth, Minnesota


Submitted to The Catholic University of America in Partial

Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree,

Doctor of Philosophy

The Catholic Education Press

Washington, p. C.

June, 1914

Some Motives in Pagan Education
Compared with the Christian Ideal

A Study in the Philosophy of Education




Sisters of St. Benedict, Duluth, Minnesota


Submitted to The Catholic University of America in Partial

Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree,

Doctor of Philosophy

The Catholic Education Press

Washington, D. C.

June, 1914

m 4 1914

National Capital Press, Inc.


Washington. D. C.


The primary aim of this investigation is to compare
the motives used in stimulating attention in characteristic
Pagan countries with the motives logically consistent
with Christian ideals. Experience has abundantly shown
that Pagan motives will often percolate through a pro-
fessedly Christian stratum, vitiating results. The hope
of contributing even in a very small measure to the in-
tensifying of interest in the question of motivation has
prompted us to take up this line of research. The strik-
ing contrast between Pagan and ideally Christian motives
can, we think, best be drawn when the two are arraigned
in juxtaposition.

It is our pleasing duty to express our gratitude to
Very Reverend Thomas Edward Shields, Ph.D., for the
manifold help he has given in the preparation of this
Dissertation, and also for the kindness and scholarly
care with which he has directed our studies in the
Philosophy of Education.

We also gratefully acknowledge our indebtedness to
Reverend Patrick J. McCormick, Ph.D., for valuable sug-
gestions and to Reverend William Turner, S.T.D., who
consented to read the first redaction of the Greek and
Roman period of this Dissertation, as Reverend Franz
Joseph Coeln, Ph.D., and Reverend Romanus Butin,
Ph.D., did of the Jewish period. To all of these scholars
we are indebted for valuable criticism while the author
alone is accountable for any shortcoming in the work.

Sister Katharine.
Feast of Saint Scholastica,
February 10, 1914.



Introductiox 6

Aim and scope of the present work — Countries selected as
types for study — ^Pagan countries, Sparta, Athens, Rome —
The Jewish People — The Christian Ideal — Roots of Greek
love of emulation — Sources of this work — Increased in-
heritance of man today — The Christian inheritance.


Motives Furnished by the Homeric Epic 9

Emulation dominant — Attributed also to the gods — Emulation
evidenced in cause and progress of Trojan War — Par-
tiality of the gods — Homer, the Greek child's "First
Book" — Plato's opinion of using Homer as a text — Means
by which the Iliad and the Odyssey reached the child —
Minstrel — Rhapsodist — Xenophon's testimony of Homer's
place in education — Christian virtues almost excluded from
the Iliad and the Odyssey.


Greek Athletics in Homeric and ix Early Historic Times 16

Skill in athletics — Diversity of contests — Funeral games in
the Twenty-third Iliad — Prizes — Regularly organized ath-
letics in early Historic times — Tradition of existence of
contests in Pre-Doric times — Exclusion of women — The
Heraea — Olympic games — Other games— General provision
for physical training — Period of excessive athleticism —
Withdrawal of Sparta — Critics — Xenophanes — Euripides.


Spartan Training 22

Peculiar conditions leading to differences in Athenian and
Spartan training — Spartan need of training primarily for
warfare — Education, a state care in Sparta — Constant
vigilance— Flogging— Encouragement to steal — Content of
Sparta's training— Youthful "fights" — Rewards of honor-
Continued training during mature years — Criticism of
Aristotle and Plato — Limitations of the system.


Athenian Training 33

Thucydides' comparison of Spartan and Athenian training —
Geographic conditions making for differentiation — Train-


ing in warfare not essential — Personal perfection and per-
sonal glorification the end — No state system — Early train-
ing of the child — Private-venture schools — Texts, Homer
and Hesiod — Meagre state supervision through the Areopa-
gus — Aim of gymnastic training — Premium on physical
beauty — Ephebic training — Dangers in excessive admira-
tion for beauty of form — Rewards given the successful
athlete — Limitations in Athenian training — Too much
freedom — Nourished natural tendency to volatility — Prey
to novelties— General estimate of the Athenian.


Roman Education 41

Comparison of aims in education in Sparta, Athens, and
Rome — Laws of the Twelve Tables — Paterfamilias — Power
of life and death — Strictness of discipline in Roman home
— Pliny's account of training in the Roman home — Edu-
cation essentially practical — Probable date of first school —
School of Spurius Carvilius — Worship of Lares and
Penates a means of welding the family — Greek influence —
Beginning of Latin literature — Effect of Greek culture —
Decree forbidding Greek philosophers and rhetoricians to
be tolerated in Rome — Disciplinary means in Roman
schools — Horace's estimate of the flogger, Orbilius — Testi-
mony of Suetonius, Plautus, etc. — Gradual relaxing of
discipline — Tacitus' complaint — Isolated instances of
awarding of prizes — -Quintilian on teaching — Horace's
method of opposite example — Flogging censured.


The Jewish People 52

Ideal m Jewish education — Narrowness of their interpretation
of the "law" — Monotheistic religion — High appreciation
of their spiritual inheritance — Home education — Rise of
distinctive schools not until after the Babylonian Cap-
tivity — Discipline — Restriction of abuse of parental author-
ity — Death sentence pronounced against unruly children —
Content of their education — Injunction to obey the
"Law" — The Prophets — Parents commanded to teach
their children — The rod as a disciplinary means —
Declaration of future rewards an incentive to effort —
Learning made easy through unconscious appeal to the
apperception masses — Summary of incentives — Effect of
the Babylonian Captivity — The Scribe — Decree of Simon
ben Shetach — Disciplinary means in the schools — Peda-
gogical principles in the Sapiential Books — Comparison of


motives in Jewish and Spartan education — Greek influ-
ence — <jymnasia ephebium — Josephus' estimate of Jew-
ish training — Fall of Jerusalem — Feverish educational
activity — The Talmud — Content of Hebrew education after
the Fall of Jerusalem — Appeal to the intelligence of the
child to maintain attention — Analysis of individual ca-
pacity — Aids to study — Studying aloud — Mnemonics —
Young teachers proscribed — Patience — Respect for teacher
enjoined — Summary of motives.


The Christian Ideal 72

Dominance of the Spiritual — The Messiah's birth — Im-
portance — Social, Political, and Educational — Events
favoring the spread of the Gospel— Disgust for the low
moral level of the times — Unity of political power, lan-
guage — Loss of faith in the heathen gods — TertuUian's
testimony of the rapid spread of Christianity — Woman's
position in Christian education — Her position in the educa-
tional schemes of Sparta, Athens, and Rome — Weakness of
the marriage bond in pagan countries — High estimate of
the value of human life in the Christian dispensation —
Disregard for life in Sparta, Athens, and Rome — Exposure
of infants — Ideal marriage scheme of Plato — Aristotle's con-
cept of marriage and parentage— Right of life primary in
the Christian dispensation — Christ's compassion for the
suffering — Laws of church and land safe-guarding human
life — Hospitality practiced by the Greeks, not charity —
Emulation — Defects — Spiritual good, not primarily objects
of sense, the desire of the Christian — Living versus
preparation for life — Inhibition in pagan education —
Christ's method not coercive — Dangers in negative
method — Character building the aim of the Christian
teacher — Strength of will and docility — Obedience to the
spirit of the law — The aesthetic in Christian education —
Roman training for practical excellence — Limitations —
Christ's method — Utilizing the interests and instincts — The
Parable — Parable of the Cockle and the Good Seed — Tem-
porary withholding of application from all but his disci-
ples — Significance of this — Saint Ignatius' care — Appeal to
parental love — Embodiment of Christ's method in Christian
Pedagogy — "Suffer the little ones."

Conclusion 94




The offspring of primitive man, following the primary
instinct of self-preservation and the instinct of imitation,
would early acquire such knowledge as would fit him to
maintain, independently, an existence on as high a social
plane as his fellows. External incentives to exertion
would scarcely be. needed. With the offspring of man
who has outgrown this primitive state and has come into
a social .inheritance, more or less considerable, the ques-
tion of motivation is a more important one.

What means were employed by Pagan peoples to enable
and in a sense compel their offspring to come into posses-
sion of their social inheritance, as compared with the
methods employed by the Perfect Teacher will form the
substance of these pages. The motives for study will, we
think, in any case, be dominated by the ideal a nation has
in its training. The instrument would to a great extent
be modelled to suit the purpose for which it was intended,
so. the motive made use of would vary with the ideal.

The countries selected as types of Pagan training are
the Community-State, Sparta, with the production of the
soldier-citizen as ideal and emulation as the dominant
motive; Athens as a type of a "virtue" and beauty-
loving City-state with emulation as a motive, but emula-
tion- to excel others not in physical strength and prowess,
as in Sparta, but in mental astuteness and beauty of
physical form through perfect and symmetrical develop-
ment. Rome was selected as a type of country where the
''practical" dominated as an ideal and the motive is
rarely emulation but in large part constraint or punish-

A chapter on the motives employed by the Jewish
People is included in this work largely as a. background
to Christianity or perhaps, we might say, as a halting



place midway between the highly imperfect and the
highest perfection. The ideal here is obedience to the
behests of Jehovah. The motives were, we think, a high
appraising of the dignity and distinction of their nation,
and reverence for the commands of Jehovah. Constraint,
of course, also plays a considerable part.

Next, in the chapter treating of the Christian Ideal, we
have tried to analyze the methods used by the Divine
Teacher, knowing as He did from eternity, the laws of
development He Himself had given to the mind and know-
ing also the strength and the weakness of the individual,
the use to be made of the instincts, etc. Here the spiritual
ideal, seemingly dominant in Jewish education and yet
fettered by hyper-critical interpretation of the "Law,"
is dominant. "For what doth it profit a man, if he gain
the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or
what exchange shall a man give for his soul?'"

In taking up the study of Greece as a whole, an attempt
has been made to trace the roots of the Greeks love of
contest and their reliance upon competition as a motive,
back through the grey dawn of Homeric Times to the
tradition, at least, of a more remote origin. In develop-
ing the chapters on Greece and Rome the writer has
felt free to wander through the fields of Epic Poetry,
the Drama, Philosophy and History, wherever light was
thrown upon either ideal or motive.

The primary sources for Jewish Education were, of
course, almost entirely the Old Testament and the Tal-
mud, though Philo and Josephus have both furnished
fairly reliable contemporary evaluation.

The lines of development of Chapter VIII are not
entirely original in this work. The chapter is in large
part a working out of the Method of the Master along
lines suggested in "The Psychology of Education"' and

1 Matt., XVI, 26.

2 Cf. Shields, Psych, of Ed., Wash., 1905. Chap. 25.


developed in the Catholic Educational Series of Readers.^
Truth is eternal and since the principles therein laid
down seemed to us basic and as such in conformity with
the Teachings of Christ, it remained only to trace the
sources of the development of these principles and to
compare them with the principles dominating the other
countries studied, in their educational work. The Chris-
tian Ideal in Education is discussed largely along the
same lines in the Catholic Educational Review.* This
is simply a masterly presentation of the ideal, while the
former is a psychological analysis of method. All of
these works have been drawn upon.

The inheritance of man, coming into possession of
twenty-five or thirty centuries of accumulated culture, is
overwhelmingly vast. How shall we keep our youth
down to the task of acquiring this inheritance? The
motives for effort in Pagan schools were, as it would
seem, from an examination of facts, inadequate. Besides^
we have an added duty, that of transmitting a spiritual
inheritance. This spiritual inheritance is not an addi-
tion or an accretion merely but a leaven which, it would
seem, should permeate and invigorate the vast bulk of
material, literary, institutional, social and aesthetic, to be
transmitted, rendering it the easier to transmit. This, it
seemed to us, was the Method of the Master and therefore
the Christian Ideal.

3 Cf. Cath. Ed. Series, Wash., 1909.

< Turner, Cath. Ed. Rev., Vol. II, p. 865.



In approaching the question of motivation in Greek
education we are impressed at the outset by the domi-
nant place held by a single motive, namely, emulation.
So prevalent, indeed, was the spirit of emulation among
the Greeks that the idea was carried over from the world
of mortals into their conception of the world of the
immortal gods. The first remote cause of the Trojan
war was the anger of the goddess. Discord, upon being
excluded from the marriage of Peleus and Thetis.
Jealous of the guests, she threw among them a golden
apple bearing the inscription, "For the most beautiful."
She supposed, and rightly so, that the goddesses would vie
with one another for this trophy of beauty and thus the
harmony of the feast would be destroyed and revenge for
the slight would be secured. Juno, Minerva, and Venus
each claimed the apple as her right. Paris was called in
to decide. He decided in favor of Venus, who had prom-
ised as a remuneration to give him the fairest of women
for his wife. Venus, as we know, fulfills the promise by
aiding Paris in carrying otf Helen, the wife of Menelaus.
This abduction is the direct cause of the war.

The events connected with the preparation for the war
were characterized, it is true, by magnanimity in the
almost unanimous response of the Greek chieftains when
asked to unite with Menelaus in trying to recover Helen,
Of course, this ready response was in part, at least,
simply a fulfillment of their vow to defend Helen and
avenge her cause whenever necessary. There were,
besides, some isolated examples of personal self-sacrifice.
One of the most noteworthy of these was the willingness
of Agamemnon to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, one
of the few characters in the Greek Classical Drama that
is spotless when measured by the moral standards of any



age.^ Still, the progress of the war was marked by dis-
cord, contention, emulation, and deceit on the part of
both gods and men. Indeed, the student of Homer knows
that loyalty, as understood today, is almost unknown in
the whole array of names. One of the most striking
examples of disloyalty to a cause is that furnished by
Achilles himself. He was angered at having to yield a
captive maid, Briseis, to Agamemnon and would have
killed him though he was commander-in-chief of the
forces and as such the fate of the Greeks rested very
largely upon him. Acting upon the crafty advice of
Athene, always partial to Troy, he decided to sulk in
his tent.*' For twenty-nine days, during which matters
had gone from bad to worse for his countrymen, he per-
sisted in his inactivity. Matters, as we know, finally
came to such a pass that the Greeks were routed and the
Trojans had begun to set fire to the ships. Neither the
slaying of his countrymen nor the dishonor to his coun-
try had power to outweigh a personal slight. When he
does finally return to the field, it is from an egoistic
motive, wrath for the death of his friend, Patroclus, and
desire for revenge.^ Again, Zeus rules in name over the
lesser gods who obeyed or disobeyed as it suited their
whims. Right had no part in the whole strife. Mahaffy
delineates the situation in the following words: "We are
actually presented with the picture of a city of gods more
immoral, more faithless, and more depraved than the
world of men."^

Yet we know that Homer was the Greek child's and
the Greek youth's main text for centuries. Hesiod,
Theognis and Phokylides and some of the Lyric poets, it
is true, soon found place on the curriculum, but Homer
always held dominance. ''They [these poems] were com-

5 Cf. Eurip. Iphig. among the Tauri and Iphig. at Aulis.

6 II. Bk. I.
7Cf. II. XVI.

8 Soc. Life in Greece. London, 1874, p. 36.


mitted to memory by the Hellenic boys and studied by the
Hellenic youths, who saw in Achilles a type of free and
warlike Greece. . . ."^ Scenes of emulation and con-
tention, craft and cunning were then the Greek youths'
daily mental food.

Motivation, as we know, may be influenced either di-
rectly or indirectly. The ordinary sources of indirect
influence are the ideals presented to the child through
story, song, or dramatic presentation. The ideals fur-
nished by the Iliad and the Odyssey found an early
critic in Plato, who would have banished the reading of
Homer from the schools in his ideal republic. "Nor yet
is it proper to say in any case — what is indeed untrue —
that gods wage war against gods, and intrigue and fight
among themselves. We are not to teach this, if the
future guards of the state are to deem it a most dis-
graceful thing to quarrel among themselves. . . . Stories
like the chaining of Hera by her son Hephaestus, and the
flinging of Hephaestus out of heaven for trying to take
his mother's part when his father was beating her, and
all other battles of the gods which are to be found in
Homer, must be refused admittance into the state,
whether they be allegorical or not. For a child cannot
discriminate between what is allegory and what is not;
and whatever at that time is adopted as matter of belief,
has a tendency to become fixed and indelible ; and there-
fore we deem it of the greatest importance that the fic-
tions which children first hear should be adapted as far
as possible to the promotion of virtue."^" Yet Homer
continued to be the "educator of Hellas" and the Greek
gods and goddesses who were but glorified men and
women, having human love and human hate but having
superhuman power continued to pass before the minds of
the children.

9 Laurie, Pre-Christ. Ed. Lond., 1904, p. 197ff. Cf. p. 14, ff below.

10 Plato, Rep. II, 378.


Even before the Iliad and the Odyssey reached the
child through manuscript copy, the main narratives in
Homer were known to him through hearing the separate
episodes either recited or retold or both. Minstrelsy, as
we know, held an important place in the formative years
of the Greeks just as it did among the Celts, the Teutons,
etc. But if we compare the content of, for instance, the
Arthurian Cycle with the content of the Homeric Poems
together with the dramas dealing with episodes con-
nected with the main narrative, we find, in the first
instance, men idealized so as to be almost godlike ; in the
second instance, we find gods characterized as beneath
fairly good men in the moral order. Both the Iliad and
the Odyssey give evidence of the custom of having min-
strels sing in at least the great homes. ^^ The Iliad refers
to a minstrel only once^- but in book nine, where Ulysses
and the other Greek heroes go to the tent of Achilles to
plead with him to return to the field, they find him ' ' With
a sweet-tuned harp, cheering his mind . . . and glorious
deeds of mighty men he sung."^" This would seem to
show that outside the ranks of the minstrel, song accom-
panied by the harp was not unknown. The Odyssey, as
we know, makes repeated mention not only of minstrels
but of the subjects of their song. The themes mentioned
are the episodes of a quarrel between Odysseus and
Achilles, the story of the Wooden Horse, the return of
the Achaeans from Troy.^* In their social gatherings,
then, it would seem that the custom was to pass the time
listening to the narratives later embodied in the Homeric

During the latter part of the sixth century B. C. the
''rhapsode" or the rhapsodist, a sort of professional
public reciter, sang side by side with the minstrel and

11 Cf. Jebb, Introd. Horn. 6th Ed. Boston, 1902, p. 74.

12 Cf. II, 597.

13 II, IX, 257 ff.

i*Cf. Od. 8, 65; 8, 500; 1,352; 8,578; 9. 7.


during the following centuries gradually replaced him.
In Xenophon, Antisthenes speaking to Niceratus reminds
him that others as well as himself are quite familiar with
Homer : ' ' You have not forgotten, perhaps, that besides
yourself there is not a rhapsodist who does not know
these poems?"

<< Forgotten! Is it likely," he replied, ''considering I
had to listen to them almost daily. "'^ A second reference
is made to the rhapsodists by Xenophon in the Memora-
bilia. Socrates is speaking to Euthydemus relative to
selecting a profession. Socrates says, "Then do you
wish to be an astronomer, or (as the youth signified dis-
sent) possibly a rhapsodist," he asked, "for I am told
you have the entire works of Homer in your possession?"

"May God forbid! not I!" ejaculated the youth,
"Rhapsodists have a very exact acquaintance with epic
poetry, I know, of course; but they are empty-pated
creatures enough themselves."^''

Despite this low estimate of the mentality of the
rhapsodists, if we are to accept the testimony of Xeno-
phon, their power to sway an audience was great. An
idea of their influence can be gleaned from Plato's Ion.
Socrates is speaking. "But tell me this, Ion; and do
not have any reserve in answering what I ask you : When
you recite the epic strains so well, and captivate the spec-
tators — when you sing of Odysseus leaping upon the floor,
suddenly appearing to the eyes of the suitors and pouring
out the arrows before his feet — or Achilles rushing down
upon Hector or the pathetic passage concerning Andro-
mache, or Hecuba or Priam — are you master of yourself
or are you out of yourself? Does your soul in her
enthusiasm think that she is present at the scene, in
Ithaca, or in Troy, or wherever else it may be . . . ? " Ion
replies, "When I look up from the stage, I see them

15 Cf. Symp., Ill, 6.

lexen. Mem. IV, II, 10. Cf. Plato, Ion.


weeping, and expressing fear and awe in sympathy with
the poem, I am obliged to attend to such things. If I
make them sit down weeping, I may laugh to think of
the money I shall get: if I make them laugh, I shall
have to cry for want of money.'"" The effect was
heightened further by the fact that the rhapsodist spoke
to large audiences, numbering at times we are told as

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Online LibrarySister Mary Katharine McCarthySome motives in pagan education → online text (page 1 of 8)