Page images
PDF
EPUB

mestic training. Among the poor, the mother was the teacher; but among the wealthy, nurses were employed. These had entire supervision over the child, and were its constant companions. It is interesting to know that the children of Athens more than two thousand years, ago were entertained by the same devices in use to-day, among which may be named rattles, dolls, swings, balls, stick-horses, little wagons, and toy houses and ships.

The boyhood education began with the seventh year. The boy was then removed from the nurse's care, and placed under the charge of a pedagogue, usually an aged and trustworthy slave, under whose care he remained throughout the rest of his education. The pedagogue performed the important functions of servant, guardian, counselor, and moral censor. He attended his charge in walks and amusements, and accompanied him to and from school. Instruction was given by private teachers. The better class occupied comfortable rooms in which they received their pupils; while those without means imparted instruction in public places, receiving but little remuneration. Reading and writing were the subjects first studied. In teaching reading, the Athenian instructor employed the alphabetic system, and encountered all the difficulties growing out of the dissimilarity between the names of the letters and their sounds as combined in words and syllables. A wax tablet and stylus were the earliest writing-materials.

The pupil imitated a copy set by the teacher. After these elementary studies were sufficiently mastered, arithmetic, grammar, and literature were taken up. The “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” were among the earliest reading-books of

[ocr errors]

66

the Greek. These, with other poetical and prose works, were carefully studied, extended portions being copied with the pen, and memorized for declamation. Geography was learned chiefly from the second book of the

Iliad,” which contains the well-known catalogue of ships, and describes the various districts from which the Grecian forces came.

At the age of twelve or fourteen, the sons of the poor usually relinquished study, in order to learn a trade or engage in work, while the sons of the wealthy entered upon a higher course, embracing grammar, poetry, music, rhetoric, mathematics, and philosophy. Much of this higher instruction was given in the gymnasia, which, at first, places of physical exercise only, became at length centers of intellectual culture also.

A gymnastic training ran parallel with mental culture through its whole extent. This training was given by private teachers in their own or in public gymnastic schools. The elementary gymnastic schools, designed exclusively for boys, were called palæstra. Here the exercises consisted in running, jumping, wrestling, and other similar sports. The art of swimming was almost universal. “He knows neither the alphabet nor swimming,” was a Greek expression for an ignoramus. The later physical training was received in the state gymnasia. The exercises assumed a more manly character, and consisted of leaping, running, wrestling, throwing the javelin, and hurling the discus or quoit. This was the classic course of gymnastics, and is known by the name pentathlon. The gymnastic discipline of Athens had a different purpose from that of Sparta. The Athenian sought beauty of body; and with what success, the model forms of Grecian statuary bear lasting witness. The Spartan aimed at strength and endurance; but, in connection with these qualities, he often developed a coarseness that appeared to the refined Athenian taste almost brutal.

Music formed an important part of education. It was believed to exert a very ennobling influence upon the mind and character. Poems were set to music and sung. The principal musical instrument was the cithara, a stringed instrument corresponding to the modern guitar, to which it has given name. The flute, though always used at banquets and public festivals, was less popular, because it distorted the face and was unsuited to vocal accompaniment. “ He who followed music as a profession," says Falke,“ was looked upon as a mere

a laborer, and enjoyed but little respect; but, as a part of education and culture, singing and playing the cithara were an ornament to the freeman. Already, in Homer's day, Achilles sang and played; and to Epaminondas, the disciple of philosophers, the victorious leader of state and army, it was imputed as an honor that he was

, a good musician, and even dancer. Music was not introduced into the schools as a means of pleasure and amusement; but it was supposed to have a purifying and educating power. It was studied for the elevating influence which it exerted upon the soul.”

The moral education of the Athenian was defective. It lacked a true religious basis. The gods of the Greeks were merely deified men, beautiful, indeed, in body and mind, but stained with ignoble passions. The Greek could not rise above his gods. In many points, however, the moral education of Athens is worthy of comraendation. Patriotism and courage, respect for the religious rites of the city, modesty and urbanity of manner, a constant regard for outward propriety, were carefully inculcated. The refined taste of the Athenian abolished grossness from his vices; and, like the Parisian, his counterpart in the modern world, he sinned in an æsthetic

way. At eighteen the youth entered the military service of the state. They were placed as guards at frontier posts, and were subject to severe discipline. Two years later they were formally enrolled among the voters, and admitted to the privileges of full citizenship. The oath administered on this occasion was as follows: “I will not bring reproach upon our sacred arms, nor desert the comrade at my side, whoever he may be. sanctuaries and laws I will fight alone or with others. My country I will leave, not in a worse, but in a better condition. I will at all times submit willingly to the judges and established ordinances, and will not consent that others infringe or disobey them. I will honor the established religious worship. The gods be my wit

For our

ness!”

Athenian education, though far above any system preceding it, is by no means ideal. Its fundamental idea is not correct. The beautiful, as an æsthetic conception, is not the supreme end of life. The moral and the useful are of higher significance. The worth of man was not fully grasped in Attica. Slaves were excluded from all education, and women were held in servile subordination. Education in Athens was particularistic. Its aim was not a manhood of typical and universal perfection, but the beautiful Athenian; and

hence it had not breadth enough to become the educa. tional system of our race.

The system of Athens has been called asthetic education.

(D.) SOCRATES. After the Persian war, Athens declined. This natarally affected education. The teachers degenerated into sophists, who were less concerned about depth of knowledge than beauty of style, and less occupied with truth than with plausibility. This unmanly and dishonest superficiality was vigorously opposed by Socrates, one of the most eminent characters of Grecian history. He was born at Athens, 469 B. C., his father being a sculptor. Socrates pursued the same occupation for some years with success; but he subsequently relinquished it to devote himself to study. His personal appearance was unattractive; “his projecting eyeballs, his depressed nose, with upturned and dilated nostrils, his large, unwieldy body, gave to his whole appearance somewhat of the satyr, altogether in keeping with the tone of his discourse, which not seldom breathed forth a vein of latent mockery, and pursued, with bitter expressions of scorn and irony, every arrogant pretender to wisdom and virtue.” He possessed a strong body, and was capable of great endurance. He took part in the Peloponnesian war as a heavy-armed soldier, and won the admiration of his associates by his strength and courage. His wife Xanthippe was a notorious scold, for which, no doubt, she had too much occasion; but he endured her railing with a truly model patience and resignation.

« PreviousContinue »