CLAS 1000 Chapter 6, 11, 15: 6: Education in the Roman World; 11: Crime, Law, and Order; 15: The Economy

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March 30th – April 1st, 2015
Textbook Reading – Chapters 6, 11, & 15:
Chapter #6: Education in the Roman World – page #117-138:
Education was an important component of childhood and adolescence throughout the central
period (200 BCE 200 CE) in both Italy and the provinces
The roles that childminers and private teachers played in the intellectual development of their
young charges contribute to the pictures that emerge about Roman childhood and domestic
slavery, as well as educational practices
Discussions of education in its various forms often included commentary on the values and
expectations that society held concerning judicial status, gender, and socio-economic
“Letters are a Good Start to Life”:
The First Elements: Early Education at Home and School:
Before formal studies began, a great deal of valuable learning took place at home
Nutrices a female in charge of an infant’s care but who is not the infant’s mother. Children
of all economic classes and social statuses might be entrusted to nurses, who were often
paid professionals or freed dependants of a wealthy family
Paedagogus a male slave responsible for providing early instruction to the young free
children in his charge
Both parents should be as educated as possible since children modal parental speech
whom children heard and spoke to at home every day was of great importance
Some elite children enjoyed other domestic opportunities that fostered an early appreciation
for learning
Many wealthy Roman men had private libraries and invited scholars to make use of their
Children most likely had access to all these cultural resources, which no doubt enriched their
childhood experiences
Regardless of juridical or socio-economic status, most children presumably learned a
considerable amount through play, which helped them learn about the world around them
while developing important motor, communication, and social skills
Both archaeological and literary sources provide evidence of a wide variety of toys, ranging
from rattles for babies and animal pull toys for toddlers to dolls and hoops for older children
Many boys games involved assuming social and political leadership roles, such as playing as
judges or generals
It was also common for children to keep pets, a practice that likely yielded significant
psychological and emotional benefits
One of the first steps in the more formal educational process, which ideally began at home,
was learning the alphabet
Children should learn the letters’ shapes and names together, followed by their order so that
they could recognize letters our of sequence
To reinforce knowledge of the alphabet and cultivate an early love of learning, wealthy
children were given letter shapes crafted from ivory or boxwood
Children began more serious studies at about age 7, some at public schools and other at
home with tutors
Parents who kept their sons out of school are said to have worried mainly about corruption by
a teacher of bad character or insufficient individual attention
A number of elite boys and girls are known to have had private tutors
While upper-class girls may have generally acquired basic reading and writing skills at home,
limited evidence suggests that other freeborn girls sometimes attended schools
Some schools were conducted outdoors while others were also held in private and public
Like those tutored at home, the freeborn children who attended school initially focused on
mastering the alphabet
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March 30th – April 1st, 2015
To help develop proper handwriting, it was recommended to inscribe the letters on a tablet so
that they could be traced with a pen and within well-defined grooves
Students then learned to combine letters into syllables, a preparatory stop to both writing and
reading they recited various syllabic sets inscribed on teachers’ models and wrote down
letter combinations following a system, such as starting with two-letter combinations that
paired a consonant with each vowel, then forming three-letter or four-letters sets, and
eventually working through the entire alphabet
Students also copied lists that included the names of rivers, animals, or mythological
In antiquity, reading could be very challenging since manuscripts other than school texts
lacked features that modern reader take for granted, such as separation between words and
Gaining even basic literate skills was no small accomplishment
Young slaves chosen to be a child’s servants and companions should be “distinct of speech”
Educated and well-trained slaves were assets for the skilled jobs they performed and the high
value they could garner at sale, and therefore some owners assumed responsibility for their
slaves’ education
Presumably, some young slaves acquired critical foundations before progressing to
specialized training
Of course, not all masters were interested in or had time to educate slaves themselves and
many young slave boys attended lessons with the lidu magister and other studying under
teachers of accounting and stenography
Male slaves may have also attended in-house schools since the imperial household and very
large private households are known to have had special training establishments called
Their training was likely more comprehensive, as attendance at dinners sometimes involved
tasks such as reading, taking notes, and reporting on financial accounts
The more important functions in an urban household would have required a high degree of
literacy and practical knowledge of arithmetic
Beyond the Basics Grammatice, Rhetoric, and Vocational Training:
Ability rather than age determined advancement for those who continued to the next stage,
which was generally called gammatice
This phase aimed at developing skills in reading, writing, and speaking and was aught under
the direction of a Grammaticus
o Grammaticus a paid teacher who taught literature to students with rudimentary
literacy skills in order to improve their reading, writing, and oratorical abilities
Some upper-class boys studied privately with a Grammaticus and upper-class girls are
known to have continued their studies as well
How large classes were is not clear
“A good teacher will not burden himself with bigger crowds of pupils than he can manage?
And devoted considerable attention to addressing imagined remarks about the potential
impact of class size, which suggests that genuine parental concerns probably existed
Studies under Grammaticus were based predominantly on literature, specifically poetry
It was felt that students should concentrate on Greek first, even if their dominant language
was Latin
Grammatice encompassed a number of areas of study the study of correct speech and the
interpretation of poets
The next logical step for aristocratic boys was to study rhetoric, which usually occurred in
their early to mid-teens, though there was no fixed age set
Specialized teachers (rhetores) existed, but initial instruction sometimes began under a
The crowning achievement of this phase was declamation, the delivery of a piece of oratory
Before a child could reach that stage, however, he had to complete preliminary training
exercises (progymnasmata)
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Progmynsmata were designed to develop argumentation and style and were often later given
orally so that boys could work on delivery
The earliest and easiest exercises made use of materials learned previously and were based
on an instructive saying, maxim, fable, or mythological narrative that the student had to
reproduce in his own words, explain, and expand upon in a composition
More advanced exercises had themes relate to praise and denunciation or involved
impersonating a literary or historical character and expanding on his or her speech or action
in a particular situation
Practicing declamation began in earnest through composition and delivery of mock speeches
Suasoriae oratorical exercises aimed at persuading the audience to the speaker’s point of
view. Speeches centered on dilemmas presented to historical or mythological figures:
speakers would choose to use one course of action over another
Controversiae oratorical exercises in which the declaimed argued one side of a fictitious
legal case
Boys from senatorial and equestrian families who wished to pursue careers in politics or law
normally followed their rhetorical studies with one or two years of apprenticeship called
triocinium fori (“recruitment to the forum”)
The tirocinium often began soon after a boy had celebrated his coming-of-age ceremony,
where he received the toga virilis (“toga of manhood”) to mark his attainment of adult status
The apprenticeship was designed to prepare an upper-class boy for entry into public life
It paired the boy a tiro (novice) with an established orator who served as a mentor
Upper-class boys usually spend some time during their tirocinium fori engaged in military
This involved performing physical exercises on the Campus Martius to acquire basic skills
with weaponry and other aspects of soldiering
Boys were subsequently assigned to prominent generals during an additional apprenticeship
called tirocinium militiae (“recruitment to the army”) and designed to give boys experience in
Even if they were intent on careers in the forum or law courts rather that the battlefield, all
boys had to complete some military service
Serving in the army was an important duty for Roman men
Since upper-class girls could not participate in the law courts or politics as speakers, it seems
unlikely that many received training in rhetoric
By the time that boys were beginning rhetorical studies, many elite girls were betrothed or
married, yet this did not necessarily signal the end of their studies
Sometimes women would continue with a tutor or the husband would take over her education
For children of the upper classes, especially boys, childhood and early adolescence were
normally spend becoming well versed in literature and eloquent in expression
For the lower classes and slaves, such formal education was a luxury few could enjoy
formal education was limited for boys from modest background
For others, learning a trade was perhaps the only option available, unless they wanted to
enlist in the army, which offered steady wages and other benefits but required a 25-year
service commitment
Training generally began at age 12 or 13, and periods of apprenticeship spanned 6 months to
6 years
For some apprentices, working conditions appear to have been harsh had to work from
sunrise to sunset with limited days off
A large proportion of the brain-workers in ancient society were of servile status
“A Proper Education is the Source and Root of all Goodness”:
In the Roman world, education had clear ethical aims that varied depending on the juridical
status, socio-economic circumstances, and gender of the learner
Educationalists repeatedly emphasized the moral objectives of underlying lesions in reading
and writing
At each stage, shaping character was paramount
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