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sponding to four institutions, (1) the family, (2) thai
school, (3) the gymnasium or college, (4) the State.
We may consider these in their order.


The birth of a child was regarded by the Athenians
as a joyful event, as something calling for gratitude-"


to the gods. This expressed itself in a family festival,
called the Amphidroinia, celebrated usually on the
seventh day after the birth. On this occasion, the
child was carried rapidly round the family altar and
received its name. A sacrifice was then offered to the
gods, the mother was purified, and christening presents
were displayed. The child was now a member of the
family and under the protection of its gods. For the
next seven years, it was wholly in the hands of parents
and nurses, the latter being usually slaves. During
this time its body was the chief object of care, and
everything seems to have been done to render it
healthy and hardy. Cradles do not seem to have been
iii use, and the child was sung to sleep on the nurse's
knee. While it was being weaned, it was fed on milk
and soft food sweetened with honey. As soon as it
was able to move about and direct attention to external
objects, it received playthings, such as rattles, dolls
of clay or wax, hobby-horses, etc., and was allowed
to roll and dig in the sand. Such were the simple
gymnastics of this early period. As to the other
branch of education, it consisted mostly in being sung
to and in listening to stories about gods and heroes,
monsters and robbers, of which Greek mythology was
full. By means of these the child's imagination was
roused and developed, and certain aesthetic, ethical,
and national prepossessions awakened. Though chil-
dren were often frightened from certain acts and
habits by threats of bogles coming to carry them off,
yet the chief ethical agency employed was evidently
strict discipline. To secure good behavior in his
children was the first care of the Athenian parent.


Though disinclined to harshness, he never doubted
that "he who spareth the rod hateth the child."
Children were never placed upon exhibition or ap-
plauded for their precocious or irreverent sayings.
They were kept as much as possible out of the way
older people, and, when necessity brought them into
the presence of these, they were taught to behave
themselves quietly and modestly. ]STo Greek author
has preserved for us a collection of the smart sayings
or roguish doings of Athenian children.

Though the Kindergarten did not exist in those
old days, yet its place was, in great measure, filled by
the numerous games in which the children engaged,
in part at least under their nurses' superintendence.
Games played so important a part in the whole life
the Greek people, and especially of the Athenians,
that their importance in the education of children
was fully recognized and much attention devoted to
them. During play, character both displays itself
more fully, and is more easily and deeply affected, than
at any other time ; and, since the whole of the waking
life of the child in its earliest years is devoted to play,
this is the time when character is formed, and there-
fore the time which calls for most sedulous care. In
playing games, children not only exercise their bodies
and their wits; they also learn to act with fairness,
and come to feel something of the joy that arises from
companionship and friendly rivalry in a common occu-
pation. Moreover, as games have no end beyond
themselves, they are admirable exercises in free, dis-
interested activity and a protection against selfish and
sordid habits. Of all this the Athenians were fully


There are probably few games played by children
in our day that were not known in ancient Athens.
It seems, however, that games were there conducted
with more system, and a deeper sense of their peda-
gogical value, than they are with us. We hear of
running, leaping, hopping, catching, hitting, and
throwing games, gymnastic games, and games of
chance. The ball, the top, the hoop, the swing, the
see-saw, the skipping rope, the knuckle-bones were
as much in use in ancient, as in modern, times. Cards,
of course, there were not; and, indeed, games of
chance, though well known, seem rarely to have been
indulged in by children. It hardly seems necessary to
remark that there were some games peculiar to boys
and others to girls, and that the latter were less rude
than the former.. Doubtless, too, the games played
in the city, where the children would have few chances
of going beyond their homes, were different from
those played in the country, where almost complete
freedom to roam in the open air was enjoyed. We
must always bear in mind that well-to-do Athenian
families spent the greater part of the year at their
country-houses, which, with few exceptions, were so
near the city that they could be reached even on foot
in a single day. This country life had a marked
effect upon the education of Athenian children.


About the age of seven, the Athenian boy, after
being entered on the roll of prospective citizens in the
temple of Apollo Patroos, and made a member of a


phratria, went to school, or, rather, he went to two
schools, that of the music-master, and that of the
physical trainer. He was always accompanied thither
and back by a pedagogue, who was usually a slave,
who carried his writing-materials, his lyre, etc. (there
being no school-books to carry), and whom he was
expected implicitly to obey. The boys of each
quarter of the city collected every morning at some
appointed place and walked to school, like little sol-
diers, in rank and file. They wore next to no cloth-
ing, even in the coldest weather, and were obliged to
conduct themselves very demurely in the streets.
The school hours were very long, beginning early in
the morning and continuing till late in the evening.
Solon found it necessary to introduce a law forbidding
schoolmasters to have their schools open before sun-
rise or after sunset. It thus appears that boys, after
the age of seven, spent their whole day at school, and
were thus early withdrawn from the influence of their
mothers and sisters, a fact which was not without
its bearing upon morals.

There are several interesting points in connection
with Athenian school life about which our informa-
tion is so scanty that we are left in some doubt
respecting them. For example, though it is quite
plain that Athens had no system of public instruction,
it is not so clear that she did not own the school
buildings. Again, it is not certain whether music
(including letters) and gymnastics were, or were not,
taught in the same locality. Thirdly, there is some
doubt about the number and order of the hours de-
voted to each of the two branches of study. In regard


to these points I can state only what seems to me most

As to school buildings, we are expressly told by the
author of the fragmentary tract on The Athenian State,
currently attributed to Xenophon, but probably writ-
ten as early as B.C. 424, that "the people (&7/xos)
builds itself many palsestras, dressing-rooms, baths,
and the masses have more enjoyment of these than
the few that are well-to-do." If we assume that
some of these palaestras were for boys, as we appar-
ently have a right to do, we must conclude that
some, at least, if not all, of the schools for bodily
training were public edifices, let out by the State to
teachers. Like all the great gymnasia, some, and
possibly all, of them were situated outside the city
walls and had gardens attached to them. Whether
the music-schools were so likewise, is doubtful, and
this brings us to our second question whether the
two branches of education were taught in the same
place. That they were not taught in the same room,
or by the same person, is clear enough; but it does
not follow from this that they were not taught in the
same building, or at any rate in the same enclosed
space. Though there seems to be no explicit state-
ment in any ancient author on this point, I think there
are sufficient reasons for concluding that, generally
at least, they were so taught. If we find that Antis-
thenes, Plato, and Aristotle, who may be said to have
introduced a systematic " higher education " into
Athens, opened their schools in the great public
gymnasia, frequented by youths and men, we may
surely conclude that the lower mental education was


not separated from the physical. In the Lysis of
Plato, we find some young men coming out of a palaes-
tra outside the city walls, and inviting Socrates to
enter, telling him that their occupation (Starpi/?
consists mostly in discussions (ra iroXXa eV Ao'yots), and
that their teacher is a certain Miccus, an admirer of
his. Socrates recognizes the man as a capable
"sophist," a term never used of physical trainers.
On entering, Socrates finds a number of boys and
youths (veavib-Koi) playing together, the former having
just finished a sacrifice. It seems to follow directly
from this that intellectual education was imparted in
the palsestras. If this be true, we may, I think, con-
clude that in Athens the schools generally were out-
side the city walls, though the case was certainly
different in some other cities.

In regard to our third question, it is clear that, if
boys spent their whole day in one place, it would be
more easy to divide it profitably between musical
instruction and gymnastics than if they spent one
part of it in one place, and another in another. Just
how it was divided, we do not know, and I have little
doubt that much depended upon the notions of parents
and the tendencies of different periods. It is quite
clear, from certain complaints of Aristotle's, that in
Athens parents enjoyed great liberty in this matter.
In any case, since, as we know, the institutions of
education were open all day, it seems more than prob-
able that one class of boys took their gymnastic lesson
at one hour, another at another, and so with other
branches of study. It cannot be that the physical
training-schools were deserted when the music-schools


were in session. I think there is sufficient reason for
believing that, generally, the younger boys took their
physical exercises in the morning, and their intellec-
tual instruction in the afternoon, the order being
reversed in the case of the older boys. How much of
the time spent at school was given up to lessons and
how much to play, is not "at all clear; but I am
inclined to think that the playtime was at least as
long as the worktime. The schools were for boys
what the agora and the gymnasium were for grown
men the place where their lives were spent.

Before we consider separately the two divisions of
Athenian education, a few facts common to them may
be mentioned. In the first place, they had a common
end, which was, to produce men independent but
respectful, freedom-loving but law-abiding, healthy
in mind and body, clear in thought, ready in action,
and devoted to their families, their fatherland, and
their gods. Contrary to the practice of the Romans,
the Athenians sought to prepare their sons for inde-
pendent citizenship at as early an age as possible. In
the second place, the motives employed in both
divisions were the same, viz. fear of punishment and
hope of reward. As we have seen, the Athenian boy,
if he behaved badly, was not spared the rod. As an
offset against this, when he did well, he received
unstinted praise, not to speak of more substantial
things. Education, like everything else in Greece,
took the form of competition. The Homeric line
(//., vi, 208; xi, 784),

"See that thou ever be best, and above all others distinguished,"


was the motto of the Athenian in everything. In
the third place, in both divisions the chief aim was
the realization of capacity, not the furthering of
acquisition. Mere learning and execution were almost
universally despised in the old time, while intelli-
gence and capacity were universally admired. In
the fourth place, in both divisions the utmost care
was directed to the conduct of the pupils, so that
it might be gentle, dignified, and rational. In the
fifth place, education in both its branches was in-
tended to enable men to occupy worthily and soci-
ably their leisure time, quite as much as to prepare
them for w r hat might be called their practical duties
in family, society, and State. The fine arts, accord-
ing to the Greeks, furnished the proper amusements
for educated men T

(a) Musical (and Literary) Instruction.

Though the Greek word music (/XOVO-IKTJ) came in
later times to have an 'extended meaning, in the epoch
of which we are treating, it included only music in
our sense, and poetry, two things which were not
then separated. Aristophanes, as late as B.C. 422, can
still count upon an audience ready to laugh at the
idea of giving instruction in astronomy and geometry,
as things too remote from human interests (Clouds,
vv 220 sqq.). The poetry consisted chiefly of the
epics of Homer and Hesiod, the elegiacs of Tyrtseus,
Solon, Theognis, etc., the iambics of Archilochus,
Simonides, etc., and the songs of the numerous lyr-
ists, Terpander, Arion, Alcseus, Alcman, Sappho,
Simonides, etc. The music was simple, meant to


"sweeten" (rj&vvav) the words and bring out their
meaning. In fact, the music and the poetry were
always composed together, so that the poet was nec-
essarily also a musician. What we call " harmony "
was unknown in Greek music at all times, and instru-
mental music was almost entirely confined to solo-

In treating of Athenian, and, indeed, of all Greek,
education, it is of the utmost importance to realize
that the intellectual and moral part of it has music
and poetry for its starting-point. This is the core
round which everything else gathers; this is what
determines its character, influence, and ideal. Cul-
ture, as distinguished from nature, is the material
of Athenian intellectual and moral education; and by
this is meant, not the history or theory of culture, as
it might be set forth in prose, but culture itself, as
embodied in the ideals and forms of music-wedded
poetry, appealing to the emotions that stir the will,
as well as to the intelligence that guides it.

By making the works of the great poets of the
Greek people the material of their education, the
Athenians attained a variety of objects difficult of
attainment by any other one means. The fact is, the
ancient poetry of Greece, with its finished form, its
heroic tales and characters, its accounts of peoples far
removed in time and space, its manliness and pathos,
its directness and simplicity, its piety and wisdom,
its respect for law and order, combined with its admir-
ation for personal initiative and worth, furnished,
in the hands of a careful and genial teacher, a material
for a complete education such as could not well be


matched even in our own day. What instruction in
ethics, politics, social life, and manly bearing could
not find a fitting vehicle in the Homeric poems, not
to speak of the geography, the grammar, the literary
criticism, and the history which the comprehension of
them involved? Into what a wholesome, unsentimen-
tal, free world did these poems introduce the imagina-
tive Greek boy ! What splendid ideals of manhood and
womanhood did they hold up for his admiration and
imitation! From Hesiod he would learn all that he
needed to know about his gods and their relation to
him and his people. From the elegiac poets he would
derive a fund of political and social wisdom, and an
impetus to partiotism, which would go far to make
him a good man and a good citizen. From the iambic
poets he would learn to express with energy his
indignation at meanness, feebleness, wrong, and
tyranny, while from the lyric poets he would learn
the language suitable to every genial feeling and
impulse of the human heart. And in reciting or sing-
ing all these, how would his power of terse, idiomatic
expression, his sense of poetic beauty and his ear for
rhythm and music be developed ! With what a treas-
ure of examples of every virtue and vice, and with
what a fund of epigrammatic expression would his
memory be furnished! How familiar he would be
with the character and ideals of his nation, how deeply
in sympathy with them ! And all this was possible
even before the introduction of letters. With this
event a new era in education begins. The boy now
not only learns and declaims his Homer, and sings his
Simonides or Sappho, he learns also to write down


their verses from dictation, and so at once to read and
to write. This, indeed, was the way in which these
two (to us) fundamental arts were acquired. As soon
as the boy could trace with his finger in sand, or
scratch with a stylus on wax, the forms of the letters,
and combine them into syllables and words, he began
to write poetry from his master's dictation. The
writing-lesson of to-day was the reading, recitation,
or singing-lesson of to-morrow. Every boy made his
own reading-book, and, if he found it illegible, and
stumbled in reading, he had only himself to blame.
The Greeks, and especially the Athenians, laid the/
greatest stress upon reading well,' reciting well, and
singing well, and the youth who could not do all the
three was looked upon as uncultured. Nor could he
hide his want of culture, since young men were con-
tinually called upon, both at home and at more or less
public gatherings, to perform their part in the social

The strictly musical instruction of this period was
almost entirely confined to simple, strong Doric airs,
sung to an accompaniment which was played on an
instrument closely resembling the modern guitar (\vpa,
Ki6api<i). Complicated and wind instruments were
unpopular, and the softer or more thrilling kinds of
music, Lydian, Phrygian, etc., had not yet been
introduced, at least into schools. Anything like the
skill and execution demanded of professional players,
who were usually slaves or foreigners, was considered
altogether unworthy of a free man and a citizen, and
was therefore not aimed at. Fond as the Athenians
were of the fine arts, they always held professional


skill in any of them, except poetry and musical com-
position, to be incompatible with that dignity and
virtue which they demanded of the free citizen. A
respectable Athenian would no more have allowed his
son to be a professional musician than he would have
allowed him to be a professional acrobat.

It is difficult for us to understand the way in which
the Greeks regarded music. Inferior as their music
was to ours in all technical ways, it exerted an influ-
ence upon their lives of which we can form but a faint
conception. To them it was a daemonic power, capa-
ble of rousing or assuaging the passions, and hence of
being used for infinite good or evlL ~S& wonder, then,
that in their education they sought to employ those
kinds which tended to " purgation " (/ca&x/oo-is), and
to avoid those that were exciting, sentimental, or
effeminate! No wonder that they disapproved of
divorcing music from the intellectual element con-
tained in the words, and allowing it to degenerate
into a mere emotional or sensual luxury! Music the
Greeks regarded, not indeed as a moral force (a
phrase that to them, who regarded morality as a mat-
ter of the will, would have conveyed no meaning), but
as a force whose office it was, by purging and harmo-
nizing the human being, to make him a fit subject for
moral instruction. Music, they held, brought har-
mony, first into the human being himself, by putting
an end to the conflict between his passions and his
intelligent will, and then, as a consequence, into his
relations with his fellows. Harmony within was held
to be the condition of harmony without.

In the period of which I am speaking, no distinc-


tion was yet made between music and literature
/u,ara), both being taught by the citharist (iaOapioTrjs) .
Indeed, the term for teacher of literature (ypaju/xaTton-rj?)
was not then invented. But the citharist not only
taught literature: he also taught the elements of
arithmetic, a matter of no small difficulty, consider-
ing the clumsy notation then in use. This was done
by means of peboles, a box of sand, or an abacus^
similar in principle to that now used by billiard
players to keep count of their strokes.

As to the schoolrooms in ancient Athens, they
were apparently simple in the extreme ; indeed, rather
porches open to sun and wind than rooms in the
modern sense. They contained little or no furniture.
The boys sat upon the ground or upon low benches,
like steps (/3a#/oa), while the teacher occupied a high
chair (Opovos). The benches were washed, apparently
every day, with sponges. The only decorations per-
mitted in the schoolrooms, it seems, were statues or
statuettes of the Muses and Apollo, and the school
festivals or exhibitions were regarded as festivals in
honor of these. Indeed, in Greece every sort of fes-
tival was regarded as an act of worship to some divin-
ity. The chief school festival seems to have been
the Musea (/xovo-eta), at which the boys recited and

(/?) Gymnastics or Bodily Training. .

Under the term Gymnastics (yu/AvaoriK?}), the Greeks
generally included everything relating to the culture
of the body. The ends which the Athenians sought to
reach through this branch of education were health,


strength, adroitness, ease, self-possession, and firm,
dignified bearing. A certain number of boys, intend-
ing to take part in the Olympic and other great games,
were allowed to train as athletes under a gymnast
(yvfjivaa-Trjs, dAeiTmys) in the public gymnasia, and under
the direction of the State; but these were exceptions.
The athlete was not an ideal person at Athens, as he
was at Thebes and Sparta.

Gymnastic exercises were conducted partly in the
palaestras, or wrestling schools, partly on the race-
courses, both of which were under the direction of
professional trainers (irai8orpi)3ai) . In early times,
the palaestra and race-course were simply an open
space covered with sand and probably connected with
the school (SiSao-KoAetov), thus corresponding to our
playground. Later, this space was partly covered
over and furnished with dressing-rooms, a bath, seats
for spectators, an altar for sacrifices, statues, etc. Of
the five gymnastic exercises in which boys were
trained, all except wrestling seem to have been con-
ducted on the race-course, so that the palaestra was
reserved for what its name implied. It is by no neans
certain that every palaestra had a race-course con-
nected with it, at least in the time of which we are
speaking, and possibly in many cases the boys took
part of their exercises in the public race-course run-
ning from the agora to beyond the walls. Just as
the schoolroom was decorated with images of Apollo
and the Muses, so the palaestra was decorated with
images of Hermes, Heracles, and Eros, symbolizing,
respectively, adroitness, humane strength, and youth-
ful friendship. The special patron of the palaestra


was Hermes, and the gymnastic exhibition took the
form of a festival to him, the Hermaea, at which a
sacrifice was offered and the boys were allowed the
use of the building to play games in, the victors wear-
ing crowns.

It would be impossible, in a work of this compass, to
enter into a minute description of all the exercises of
the Athenian palaestra. We must be content with a
general statement, which may be prefaced with the
remark that these exercises were at first light, in-
creasing gradually in rigor and difficulty as the
strength and skill of the growing child permitted.

The chief gymnastic exercises were five, named in
this order in a famous line of Simonides : (1) leaping,
(2) running, (3) discus-throwing, (4) javelin-casting,
(5) wrestling (iraX-q), which last gave the name to the
palaestra. We shall not strictly follow this order,
but begin with

(1) Running. This was the simplest, lightest, most
natural, and, therefore, the most easily taught of ex-
ercises. It was probably also the oldest. We find
even Homer making his ideal Phaeacians begin their
games with it, and this practice seems to have been

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