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THE ANCIENT CLASSICAL NATIONS.
The ancient classical nations, Greece and Rome, are surrounded with a peculiar charm. They are the earliest representatives of European civilization, and as such they have placed us under great and permanent obligations. Though the stream of culture has broadened and deepened since their glory waned, receiving in particular the mighty tributaries of Christianity and modern science and invention, it must yet trace its origin to the renowned cities of Athens and Rome. They have left us a rich heritage in the domains of science and government; they have transmitted heroic deeds of patriotism that have never been surpassed; in architecture and sculpture they have furnished models and inspiration for all time; and in the most important departments of literature, in poetry, history, oratory, and philosophy, they have produced works of exalted genius and perpetual worth. These nations must always retain a prominent place in the history of the world.
But the prominence long held by Greece and Rome will be less marked in the future. At present they occupy a smaller share of the world's attention than was formerly the case. Many young and vigorous rivals have appeared. Great modern nations have arisen whose achievements and importance demand recognition. They have produced literatures that in depth and extent, if not in form, must be conceded to surpass antiquity. They have taken up the sciences as left by the ancient world, and have led them to new conquests. Sciences of which the ancients knew nothing have been developed, and have made rich contributions to modern progress. Commerce and invention, under the control of humane ideas, have largely broken down narrow national prejudices and made a brotherhood of the nations of the earth. The telegraph, the press, and the railroad, working in harmonious co-operation, bring the whole world, with its manifold interests, thoughts, and deeds, within the circle of our daily thought. In view of these facts, it is safe to say that Greece and Rome are destined to lose something of their former pre-eminence in the world's thought.
These two nations naturally occupy a prominent place in the history of education. They have left us tolerably complete records of their thought and achievements. In education they mark an obvious advance upon the defective systems of the Orient. The individual comes into a certain prominence. He is not crushed beneath the weight of some relentless external power, but attains at length to a degree of personal freedom. To some extent at least, the worth of the individual is appreciated, and, within certain limits, he is left to himself in the pursuit of wealth and happiness. Education becomes the subject of careful, scientific thought, and enlarged views of its nature are promulgated. It is controlled by higher principles. The range of studies is widened. Beautiful results are obtained, as exhibited in the physical and intellectual life of the people. No other nations have exerted such immeasurable influence upon the world.
Greece, as the oldest of the ancient classical nations, naturally claims our attention first. It is about half the size of Pennsylvania, and possesses a mild climate and rich diversity of surface. Its numerous coast indenta
. tions give it peculiar facilities for commerce. These facts are worthy of mention, for they were not without influence upon the well-endowed and versatile inhabitants. As a branch of the Aryan family, the Greeks are of the same blood as the leading nations of Europe. Greece was divided into a considerable number of little states. This gave occasion to almost incessant strife, during which one and another of the states, according to the skill of its leaders, or the number of its allies, gained the ascendency. In the history of education, however, only two states, or rather two cities, are worthy of consideration. These are Sparta and Athens. It is here alone, so far as the records have descended to us, that a complete system of education was developed. During the heroic age to which belongs the immortal siege of Troy, education possessed but a single character in all Greece. It was patriarchal. The father trained his sons to physical strength and filial piety; and the mother trained her daughters to household duties and domestic virtues. In the language of Schiller, “to throw the spear and honor the gods” was the end of male education. At a later date, when Greece had attained its highest power, when Leonidas defended Thermopylæ, and Miltiades won the field of Marathon, the educational systems of Sparta and Athens were in striking contrast, and contributed no little to perpetuate and imbitter the feud existing between these two proud cities.
(A.) SPARTA. This city was inhabited by the Dorians, a hardy and warlike race of Greeks, that held tenaciously to old cus
toms, and sternly set themselves in opposition to the ( highest forms of culture. In the ninth century before
Christ, Lycurgus prepared a constitution for Sparta corresponding to the Doric character and the peculiar circumstances of the state. The Spartans, including only about nine thousand families, were but a small part of the population of Laconia, though they were the conquering and ruling class. There were two other classes still more numerous, and sorely discontented with Spartan domination : these were the Periæci, who lived as freemen in the towns adjacent to Sparta; and the Helots, who were bound to the soil as serfs. In order to maintain their supremacy in the midst of this hostile population, it was necessary for the Spartans to be constantly vigilant and strong. The system of Lycurgus, harsh and repulsive in nearly all its features, aimed at training a powerful body of soldiers. It transformed Sparta into a perpetual training-camp. Lycurgus made a new distribution of land; he made iron the circulating medium of the country; and he required the male portion of the population to live in common at public tables. By
These sweeping regulations he struck down many evils in the commonwealth. With the abolition of wealth and commerce, pride, avarice and luxury were destroyed. The sternest simplicity prevailed. “The most masterly
. stroke of this great lawgiver,” says Plutarch,“ by which he struck a yet more effectual blow against luxury and the desire of riches, was the ordinance he made that they should all eat in common, of the same bread, of the same meat, and of kinds that were specified, and should not spend their lives at home, lying on costly couches at splendid tables, delivering themselves up into the hands of their tradesmen and cooks, to fatten them in corners, like greedy brutes, and to ruin not their minds only, but their very bodies, which, enfeebled by indulgence
, and excess, would stand in need of long sleep, warm bathing, freedom from work, and, in a word, of as much care and attendance as if they were continually sick.”
The education of Sparta was chiefly physical. The children were regarded as the property of the state. The new-born babe was brought before a body of judges, and, unless it was approved of as a strong and promising child, it was destroyed. Up to the age of seven years, the child remained under the care of its natural guardians. After that time the boys were placed in public educational establishments, where they were subjected to a rigorous discipline. Their fare was coarse and meager; their clothing scanty; and their beds, piles of rushes plucked with their own hands from the banks of the river. “ After they were twelve years old,” says Plutarch, “they were no longer allowed to wear any under-garment; they had one coat to serve them a