Page images

from the earth by magic. If their characters were not formed by physical influences only, there must have been in the porduction of them some intellectual and moral


What was that process? This question, which to us appears both interesting and important, we do not undertake to answer. It covers a field of investigation by far too extensive for our present limits. But in the belief that much is to be learned from antiquity, we propose to point out some of the characteristics of republican education as it existed in Greece and Rome. All men, it is said, are in some sense educated. But that only is appropriately called education by which, in the training of the body or the mind, some permanent effect is produced by design. With an occasional reference to the Spartan system, as furnishing the best specimen of the comparative roughness of the Doric race, we shall refer in what

say of the Greek education chiefly to Athens; because more is known of the Athenian education than of any other which existed among the ancients, and because intellectual education was carried at Athens to a perfection which has been seldom equalled.

One of the first things that strikes the inquirer into the practical education of the Greeks is the commanding position of the state. The idea of the state stood out among the nations of antiquity with far greater prominence than in modern times. With the ancients, the community was every thing and the individual nothing. Private happiness was of no account, and must be sacrificed to the smallest public benefit. For the state the child was born, for the state ihe man must live, and therefore the youth was to be educated for and by the state. We see this preponderating influence of the state illustrated in the most striking manner at Lacedæmon. It was not the man, but the Spartan, that filled the eye of the educator in the institution of the system which has immortalized Lycurgus. That famous law-giver aimed not at the development of the noble faculties of the human being, but at the formation of the useful qualities of the citizen. By meagre fare and rigid discipline he hardened the bodies of the youth, and by certain moral influences, skilfully applied, he strengthened ihe virtues of courage, self-government, patient endurance, and self-consecration to the welfare of the state. The result of his system was, that those hardy qualities of body and of mind which would be of greatest service to a nation of warriors, were cultivated to an unnatural extent, while the intellect was suffered to lie dormant, and all the finer feelings of our nature were neglected or crushed. The idea of personal rights was not developed, and private education was prohibited. It was not without some show of reason that the enemies of the Spartans maintained that there was nothing surprising in the willingness of that people to die for their country, since with them life was a condition of intolerable hardship. But at Athens a milder spirit reigned. There the Ionic softness breathed its humanizing influence. No partition of lands or other attempts at community of property there suppressed the principle of individuality. No system of commons annihilated the refining and restraining influences of domestic life, and no moral machinery acting in precisely the same manner on all minds cast them as nearly as possible in one mould. Yet the principle that the child belonged to the state, and that the state was responsible for its education, was admitted and acted on. And it is worthy of particular remark that the first use which the state made of its power in relation to the offspring of its citizens was to extend the benefits of education 10 the whole body of the free born youth.* By the laws of Solon,f every

* Since it was required by law that all the boys should learn to read, it cannot be otherwise imagined than that the state made also provision for this purpose ; although on this point there is much uncertainty in regard to the way in which the matter was arranged.”—Schwarız Erziehungslehre I: 369.

"Solon left it just as little as Minos and Lycurgus to parents, how they should educate their children ; but he constrained fathers, by laws, whose execution he committed to the members of the Areopagus, to give their sons an education suited to their rank and property.”—Meiners Geschichte der Wissenschaften II : 59.

“For the awakening of intellectual activity and the moral education of the young citizens, an influence was especially exerted by the celebrated law giver of Athens, Solon : he, and even at an earlier period Draco, directed their whole attention above all things to sobriety (w porówn) and modest deportment (soxoquia) on the part of the youth, and marked out with entire aceuracy what the free boys and young men should learn, and how they should be educated."- Cramers Geschichte der Erziehung, I: 233.

father was bound to teach his son at least to read and to swim, and the parent who had not done as much as this for his children had in old age no claim on them for support. Writing was learned at the same time with reading,* and to be ignorant of letters was a mark of the greatest disgrace. A man who was in this condition was regarded as wholly unworthy of the privileges of citizenship, and was branded with the ignominious epithet of "barbarian.”+ In regard to education the relation of Attica 10 Greece was very similar to that of New England in respect to the states of our confederacy. The intellectual superiority of the Athenians, however, was far more decided and striking than is that of New England. Athens was the school house of Greece. As the youth of New England now spread then selves through the country as teachers, so once the young men of Athens taught their less cultivated countrymen. So common was it to engage in teaching, that when a man had been long missing the proverbial expression was, “He is either dead or turned schoolmaster.” The universal extent of education at Athens is indicated by a fact which occurred at one of the darkest periods in the history of that city. “In the time of the Peloponnessian war, Euripides was the favorite poet, not only in Greece but also in Sicily ; hence many Athenian soldiers, after the unfortunate defeat in Sicily, were able to save their lives and improve their condition only by reciting to their masters the verses of Euripides. Besides, among those who were condemned to labor in the stone-quarries, the inore cultivated were set at liberty by the Syracusan youth. How much intelligence and how much cultivation prevailed at that period among the common soldiers of the Allienians, we see not merely in this instance of the acquaintance of many with the tragedies of Euripides, but also in the fact that not a few of them were able to support themselves by instruction. I

* Schwartz Erziehungslehre I : 374.

"A knowledge of writing became about the same time general; not to be able to write was at Athens a reproach of barbaristm, (μήτε νάγν μήτε γράμματα-a proverbial mark of entire want of culture); institutions for instruction without dwutt existed in great numbers.”. Wachsmuths Flellenische Alierthumskunde JI: 464, 16.($ 141, 109.)

# Cramers Geschichte der Erziehung I: 285.

Athens was not the only Grecian state in which the whole body of citizens was required to be educated. We read that Pittacus, the Mitylenean law-giver, enacted that if any one committed a crime through ignorance, he should be pui on the same ground as if he had done it in a state of intoxication, (i. e.) he should suffer a double punishment.

It belonged to the government to regulate the time which was devoted to education. At Sparta, where individual interesis were not recognized, the whole life of the citizen was spent in the service of the state. But at Athens personal freedom was more regarded. The youth was held to be the property of the state only till his twentieth year, and for the remainder of his life the man was his own. Something was left at Athens to the parent, and private education was not suppressed. As there were no common means of support as at Sparta, the amount of education acquired, depended, of course, to some extent on the rank and ability of the family. But every citizen was expected to exhibit a certain degree of culture, and every parent was obliged to cause his son to be instructed not only in some liberal art or other useful calling, but also in the two great departments—the physical and the intellectual-of a good education.t The law which required all the citizens of Athens to be able to read or write, was supported by public sentiment. Instruction in these branches was commenced at the age of seven, and was followed by thorough and long continued training in music and gymnastics. The schools were opened at sunrise, at which time the youth were required to be present with their luncheon, which was to he eaten at the proper hour under the palm trees, and after having spent the whole day in exercises either of body or of mind, were dismissed shortly before sunset. Seldom were they seen in the street without their teachers. At the age of eighteen, the young men, having made a public consecration of the long locks which had hitherto inarked them as the devotees of science and the arts, took the citizen's oath. “I will not disgrace the sacred weapons, I will reverence religion and fight for the laws,-I will leave my native land not in a worse but in a better state than that in which


So also the drunkard. Cramer I: 252. † Cramer I: 245, 246

I found it.” After two years of probationary service in the militia, at twenty, education was complete.

It was the business of the state to watch over the morals of the youth, and to see that they were not corrupted either in doctrine or practice. The charge against Socrates was, not only that he had attacked the religion of the state, by encouraging the rejection of the national deities, but that, by teaching false doctrines, he corrupted the youth of Athens. With this notice of the relation which existed between education and the state, we proceed to sketch briefly some of the features of the education itself.

In the early period of Grecian history, the education of the Greeks was almost entirely physical. Aside from a few of the most prominent and useful virtues, such as courage, fortitude, and piety, the body was the great object of attention. The reason of this is obvious. Among all uncivilized nations, physical strength is of much greater importance than in a more advanced state of society. With them martial prowess is the highest virtue. Deeds of arms—of arms wielded by the hands—decide the most important questions. Bodily strengih, skill in the use of wcapons, swiftness of foot,—these are the things by which among such a people, property is acquired and held, honor and power secured, and life itself preserved. These are therefore regarded with respect and admiration, and if we add the power of eloquent speaking, we shall have the chief objecis aimed at in the education of the early Greeks. To the Greeks of the heroic age, Hercules was the ideal of a perfect man.

The aim of the educators of that period, has been concisely and elegantly summed up by Homer, in his statement of the vicw with which Peleus committed his son to the instruction of Phænix. The line to which we refer has been translated by Cicero, Ut illum efficeret oratorem verborum, actoremque rerum"—that he might make Achilles in language an orator, and in deeds, a hero.* We hear nothing in Homer of reading and writing. But as civilization advanced in Greece, we observe a remarkable difference in respect to systematic education between the principal tribes into which its inhabitants were divided.

* De Oratore III : 15. μύθων σε ρητήρ έμεναι, πρηκτηρά σε έργων. II. IX: 442,443,485.

« PreviousContinue »