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were liable, made their moral training, when successful, more perfect than any now aimed at, even by the strictest parents. In fact the higher education of a Greek boy combined, with the highest physical and intellectual training then attainable, a moral supervision as strict as that aimed at by us in bringing up our daughters. Far from casting out their sons into public schools, with the full knowledge that they will there lose all their simplicity and innocence, Greek parents of the better sort kept their sons constantly under the eye of a slave tutor, a pedagogue, a sort of male duenna, who never let them out of his sight. It is complained, indeed, both by the speakers in Plato, and in the comedies, that these slaves were mostly old, that they spoke with a bad accent, that they were rough in their manners, and that they were chosen for the office of pedagogue because they were useless for any other purpose. But we should never forget that we hear this from the very people who found them in the way, and who were thwarted and hindered by their presence. Thus many a most respectable and kindhearted duenna has been spoken of as a disgusting old harridan, because she was faithful to her charge, and perhaps the highest encomium in her favour is this abuse from her natural enemies.
However then, the pedagogues may be abused, nothing can be more certain than that the boys whom they had in charge were probably the most attractive the world has ever seen. There are no sketches in all literature more exquisite than these youths in Plato and Xenophon. They combine with the highest beauty and intelligence a peculiar modesty and freshness, which is worn off our boys by the soil of school life, and which now no longer dwells among us, save in our delicately brought up girls. All this maiden grace and purity, this implicit obedience to parents, this docility to instruction, was, I believe, the direct result of the greater moral risks to which they were liable, and the consequent greater chastity and reticence with which they were brought up'.
There was no question more agitated at Athens than the education of boys. There was no controversy on which party-spirit ran more hotly, or on which the old and the new Attic life differed more profoundly. The older fashion had been to bring up boys very much as we bring up girls, keeping them constantly under the eye of a special attendant or teacher, insisting above all things on purity and modesty, teaching them the received religion and a little of the standard literature, inculcating obedience to the gods and to parents, but aiming at no higher intellectual standard. except the gymnastic training of Greek boys in the older Attic period, and to which the calisthenics or deportment of modern young ladies but faintly corresponds, we shall, I think, see reason for the assertion that it was very like what is, and has been, the received education of girls in our own civilisation. The locus classicus on this question is undoubtedly the famous controversy between the just and the unjust arguments
Greek fathers spoke more freely with their sons on these points than we should do. Æschines (In Timarch. p. 84) assumes that all the boys will ask about this infamous case, and have it explained to them by their parents.
in Aristophanes' Clouds (vv.934 sqq.) in which the poet, who was of the old school, puts the fairest colours on the education of his own youth. Whether he paints with equal fairness the new education may well be questioned.
But the collateral evidence we possess leaves us in no doubt as to its real nature. Among the Sophists, and with Socrates, sceptical inquiry, intellectual acuteness, rational persuasion usurped the place of the oldfashioned training in received dogmas and in popular music. Instead of playing and singing in society, their pupils were taught to discuss morals and religion, and to train themselves for politics and courts of justice rather than for the battle-field. Of course the usual results followed. Despite of the great earnestness and exceeding manliness of Socrates, whose strong and healthy nature withstood the dangers and temptations of his condition, his disciples had the very opposite reputation. With a few such exceptions as Xenophon and Plato, they were daring unprincipled men, either reckless in politics, if they were ambitious; or reckless in morals, if they were sensual.
This sceptical questioning fell in too well with the salient weaknesses of Greek nature to escape perversion; and so. while to the world at large, down to our own day, the gain from the teaching of Socrates has been greater than that from the teaching of any other man, to the Athens of his day the damage was, I believe, grave and remarkable. I have not the least doubt that the constantly repeated accusations of the Comic poets are mainly true, and that the idleness openly countenanced by Socrates was most injurious to his school. Of course he did not call it idleness; to him a deep and earnest discussion of morals, an extracting of thought from the dormant intellect of a pupil, was the noblest and most important business of life, but as he never even hinted at a test to distinguish serious and useful conversation from idle subtilties, and wordy waste of time, his school was certain to fall into this mistake. Even the greatest of them all, Plato, shows us plainly by his dialogues what a superfluity of talk was thought desirable by the school, and there is no feeling stronger in modern practical minds, upon reading these—doubtless immortal but-never ending discussions, than the feeling that the Socratic school were a school of idlers, whose time either had no other value, or if it had, was frittered away with unpardonable wastefulness 1.
But of course the excessive conversation of these dialogues was no general Greek type. I suppose that the Ischomachus of Xenophon's Economics would not have tolerated it. He went himself daily to look after his
. country farm, and took his gallop across country in
1 Observe the contrast of the respectable and diligent Nicias. • Thus then guarding himself against the professional false accusers he neither dined out, nor mixed in general society or conversation, nor did he at all allow himself leisure for such amusements, but as Archon he remained at his office till night, and was the last to leave the council, having been the first to come. Nay even when he had no public duties to perform, he was hard of access and difficult to meet, for he stayed at home and in seclusion. But his friends used to receive people who came to his door, and beg of them to excuse him on the plea that even then Nicias was engaged about some public business. Plutarch's Nicias, cap. v. Plutarch thinks from the tone of the comic poets, that this diligence was partly assumed. This I do not believe.
order, as he says, to know how to manage his horse when he served in the cavalry in war. general criticism in the Comedy of the day shows what the public felt, and we may conclude that here, as usual, we have preserved to us the spokesmen of the opposite sides, and that the higher education of Athens, though deeply affected by the sceptical spirit of Socrates, nevertheless maintained the old music and gymnastic training, nay even (as we shall see) the old orthodoxy to a considerable extent. Athenian boys were after all in most respects like our own.
If there had been any game in Attica, they would have taken to hunting, as the Spartans did; and the theoretical educators knew quite well what most of us do not, that such field sports as this are vastly superior to pure athletics in their effects upon the mind. It were well to reflect upon this now-a-days, when boat-racing and running and jumping and putting weights are bidding fair to take the place of our old foxhunting, and shooting, and fishing. The Greeks knew very well, what we ignore, that such sports as require excessive bodily training and care are low and debasing in comparison to those which are content with the ordinary strength and quickness of young men, but stimulate them to higher mental exercise—daring and decision in danger, resource and ingenuity in difficulties?. Plato argues this point fully, and we find it again strongly put in Plutarch's Philoретеп. “As he appeared to have natural qualifications for wrestling, and some of his friends and tutors
Cp. Jowett's Plato, iv. p. 154; and Grote's Plato, iii. p. 174.