Amazing articles on just about every subject...


Schools Under The Roman Empire

( Originally Published 1906 )

SINCE Christianity developed within the limits of the Roman Empire, no inquiry into primitive Christian education can dispense with all knowledge of Roman schools and education. In the days pre-ceding the Empire, the Romans had, it appears, devised a system of education of which the means or instruments were not, in the main, literary. It is a commonplace to say that the Greeks were idealists and the Romans practical men. While Socrates, Plato, and their disciples were considering the beautiful and the true, or were busying them-selves with dialectical subtleties concerning Justice, Temperance, and the like, the Romans were producing strong bodied men, ready for the emergencies of daily active life ; men trained by practice in all the arts of war, and stiffened for the battle of life by an extreme respect for Law.

In comparing Roman and Christian education, it is not without relevance to reflect on the different attitude of each to human life. The sacred import of the least human soul is, and ever has been, a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, except perhaps where it has suffered injury from the triste theory of "election."

How divergent from the Christian view was that which gave absolute power over the life of his new-born child to the Roman father. Superfluous, on account of the family's inadequate resources, or because it was constitutionally debile, defective, or deformed, the infant Roman was liable to be discarded at his father's fiat, and to be exposed to death at the cross-roads, " unless a slave merchant picks it up in order to sell it." " In the absence of the father," writes M. Victor Duruy, " judgment is suspended till his return, the newly-born is only provisionally nourished. Sometimes the father has given his consent before quitting home. 'Bring up that which shall be born in my absence.' A sad formula ! what shall be born ! Just as one would talk of a flock of sheep."

Before the third century B.c. the beginnings of a Roman child's education were an affair of the home. As he grew up he was called upon to practise bodily exercises in the Campus Martius, where he learned to box and wrestle, to throw the discus, to hurl a javelin, to ride, to drive a chariot, and so forth. It was indeed a programme calculated to evoke the enthusiastic applause of a Rabelais. Moreover, Roman youths, as they approached man-hood, were instructed in the great national legal code, the Law of the Twelve Tables. Strong in body, practical in outlook, reverencing the gods, amenable to and filled with respect for inviolate, almost inviolable Law, the Roman, before his judgment was shaken by speculation and his virtue undermined by luxury, was, as we all know, an invincibly victorious being. " For a long time," writes Eschenberg (Manual of Classical Literature), " there were no public schools, but the youth received the necessary instruction from private or family teachers (perdagogi). There were, however, those who in their houses gave instruction to a number of youths together. The corporeal exercises, especially in the early times, were viewed by the Romans as a more essential object in education than the study of literature and science. They did not neglect, however, an early cultivation of the manners and of noble feelings, especially patriotism, love of liberty, and heroic courage."

Pliny in one of his letters remarks : " Among our ancestors, instruction did not appeal only to the Ears, but also to the eyes. The youngest children, watching their elders, learned that which very soon they ought to do themselves, that which they would one day teach their children to do."

At the close of the third century B.c. the influence of Greek learning made itself felt in Rome. Private schools were established, and teachers of Rhetoric came to settle there.

M. Boissier (La Fin du Paganisme, vol. i. bk. ii. chap. i.) remarks that the older Roman schools continued to exist ; but they fell to the rank of elementary schools. He quotes from Apuleius proof that gradually three grades of instruction appeared among the Romans. The child first learned of the litterator, who taught him little more than the bare arts of reading and writing ; next he went to the grammarian, and lastly to the rhetorician.

Some features, and these not the best, of Athenian life appeared in Rome. Among the changes consequent on the introduction of Greek ways of thought, we note in the sphere of education the relaxation of parental authority, and the abandonment of their natural functions by the Roman matrons, who now began to hand over their children's upbringing to hired servants or slaves. It should not, however, be assumed too easily that the nurse was an unworthy representative of the mother, as the following description by M. Victor Duruy suggests : " In the families of the great, the newly-born child was given in charge to a nurse, who from that day became an important person in the family, and preserved to her last hour the affection of him whom she had brought up. Pliny, Dasumius, bequeathed to their nurse a small house, a field, some slaves, with the flock of sheep, the necessary farm implements, and a small capital to work with. Domitian gives to his a villa on the Via Latina. On her part the nurse, the servant in a pre-eminent degree, is faithful and devoted to death. When everything is falling to pieces, when the friends who have been watching flee from fear, she is there by the blood-stained corpse ; she saves from the Gemoniae the remains of Nero, or the last Flavian, and conveys them secretly to the ancestral tomb."

The great revolution wrought by the Greeks in the system of Roman education was the substitution of a literary for a practical training. Dr. Sandys connects this change with the visit paid to Rome by Crates of Mallos, head of the Pergamene School under Eumenes IL, in 168 B.C.2 Dr. Sandys describes the change in a short paragraph : " Our authority for the visit of Crates and its consequences is the treatise of Suetonius, De Grammaticis. He begins that treatise with the remark that in earlier times, while Rome was still uncivilised and engrossed in war, and was not yet in the enjoyment of any large amount of leisure for the liberal arts, the study of literature (grammatica) was not in use, much less was it in esteem. The beginnings of that study, he adds, were unimportant, as its earliest teachers, who were poets and half-Greeks (namely, Livius, Andronicus, and Ennius, who were stated to have taught in both languages at Rome and elsewhere), limited themselves to translating Greek authors or reciting anything which they happened to have composed in Latin. After adding that the two books on letters and syllables and also on metres ascribed to Ennius were justly attributed to a later writer of the same name, he states that, in his opinion, the first to introduce the study of literature into Rome was Crates of Mallos, who, during his accidental detention in Rome, gave many recitations and lectures, which aroused an interest in the subject."

The clear proof that education in republican Rome was not at first literary, lies in the fact that the Romans were unacquainted with Greek literature till the middle of the second century B.C. and, roughly speaking, they had none of their own till a much later period.

Yet the Romans seem to have been apt pupils in literature. When we reflect that Marcus Terentius Varro (116—27 B.c.) wrote on grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, medicine, and architecture, we realise how quickly and radically the position was changed since the primitive days when the education of children, after it left the domestic stage, was confined to the practice of physical exercises and the study of Roman law. And again, as students of the history of education, we may find interest in the fact, noted by Dr. Sandys, that the first seven of these subjects on which Varro wrote (save that astronomy should give place to philosophy) are St. Augustine's " seven liberal arts"; while, as they stand, they are the famous trivium and quadrivium of the mediaeval educational system.

The first Roman library was founded in 39 B.C. by Asinius Pollio. Father Magevny, St.J., computes that as early as B.c. 60 there were at least thirty distinct schools in Rome. In the first Christian century, during the reign of Vespasian, Imperial Schools (Auditoria) were established not only in Rome, but in some of the large provincial towns of the Empire.

Dr. Bigg in The Church's Task under the Empire gives a somewhat different account. He writes (p. 4) : "In the time of Horace, and throughout the first century, they were what we should call private schools. From the second century onward they assume a public character ; and teachers were appointed and paid by the State or the municipality. Grammar schools were to be found everywhere, and every township of any importance possessed also teachers of rhetoric." And again he writes (p. 20) : "From the second century the private school tends to disappear, and the masters are selected and paid by the town council, in some cases by the Emperor himself."

As the main motive of this book is suggestion rather than dogmatic statement, it may be admissible to quote the following extracts from M. Victor Duruy : "Meanwhile the child is growing up. Good masters were given him, and the endeavour was made not to set before him too many bad examples. It is a Roman Satirist, Juvenal, who wrote these words, the Supreme rule in Education, Maxima debetur puero reverentia. . . . We think that there is found in an infant's cradle a soft beneficial influence to bring peace into a troubled household, or to drive away bad practices, and we like to believe that this thought is of recent date ; it is as old as this bitter censor, and existed in the minds of many of his contemporaries : ' If thou art concocting any guilty project, the sight of thy son will stop thee.' . . . At about fifteen or sixteen, puberty is reached ; the boy lays aside the prcetexta " (the purple bordered toga worn by free-born children), " suspends his gold or leathern bulla" (the boyish neck ornament, usually golden and heartshaped) " to the neck of the Lares, bids farewell to his boyish amusements, his games with nuts, the top, the swing, the hoop, the stick which had served him for ten years as a horse. The assumption of the togo virilis takes place yearly on the 16th before the Calends of March (17 February). . . . Yesterday, it was boyhood and games ; tomorrow it will be active and responsible life. In fact, to-morrow the child, now become a man, is to commence his new existence ; if poor, he will earn a trade; if rich, he will be bound to a jurisconsult, or he will be sent to a provincial governor to go through an apprenticeship to arms or civil service."

A clear light is thrown upon the state of education in Rome during the first century A.D. by Quintilian. Those who discount the advice of a theorist cannot refuse to hear a man who in his preface declares that he had secured rest from my labours, which for twenty years I had devoted to the instruction of youth."

We may recall the words of Erasmus in his treatise de Ratione Studii : " It seems a mere impertinence in me to handle afresh a subject which has been made so conspicuously his own by the great Quintilian." The famous Dutch scholar could have no inkling of the torrent of pedagogic theory soon to be swept over the world—the world which is still so listless in these high matters. Quintilian's efforts during the said twenty years had been directed towards a limited end, the production of orators. But his treatise deals with a wider problem. Pointing out that previous writers, both Greek and Latin, had published admirable works on the art of oratory, and refusing his friend's invitation to undertake the " task, if not of inventing new precepts, at least of pronouncing judgment concerning the old," on the ground that he did not " wish to tread merely in other men's footsteps," Quintilian begins with the early training of a child.

Preface, § 5 : " For myself, as I consider that nothing is unnecessary to the art of oratory, without which it must be confessed that an orator cannot be formed, and that there is no possibility of arriving at the summit of anything without previous initiatory efforts, I shall not shrink from stooping to those lesser matters, the neglect of which leaves no place for greater ; and shall proceed to regulate the studies of the orator from his infancy, just as if he were entrusted to me to be brought up."

The treatise is dedicated in this Preface to Marcellus Victorius ; not only because his "extra-ordinary love of letters " made it suitable, but because Quintilian, like Montaigne writing to the Comtesse de Gurson, and John Locke to Edward Clarke, had a definite practical purpose in his offering : "My treatise seemed likely to be of use for the instruction of your son, ... a treatise which I have resolved to conduct from the very cradle as it were of oratory, through all the studies which can at all assist the future speaker to the summit of that art."

The many-sidedness of the orator appears in 18: "Let the orator therefore be such a man as may be called truly wise, not blameless in morals only (for that in my opinion, though some disagree with me, is not enough), but accomplished also in science, and in every qualification for speaking ; a character such as, perhaps, no man ever was."

It is evident that all the ordinary elements of education must enter into a system which is to produce such a man and it is to these, not to the special means of achieving oratorical skill, that the historian of education looks for light upon the every-day education of Rome.

It is extremely interesting to note that Quintilian lays stress on the importance of beginning at once with a child, of laying the foundations early in life : " Let a father, then, as soon as his son is born, conceive, first of all, the best possible hopes of him, for he will thus grow the more solicitous about his improvement, from the very beginning."

Quintilian returns to this question later on, bk. I. chap. i. para. 16: "Those, however, advise better who, like Chrysippus, think that no part of a child's life should be exempt from tuition : for Chrysippus, though he has allowed three years to the nurses, yet is of opinion that the minds of children may be imbued with excellent instruction even by them. . .. Let us not then lose even the earliest period of life, and so much the less as the elements of learning depend on the memory alone, which not only exists in children, but is at that time of life even most tenacious."

All the great educators insist on the all-importance of the start. " The beginning," said Plato, " is the chiefest part, especially in a young and tender thing." " The foundation must be laid in the first years of life," wrote Peter Paul Vergerius ; " the disposition moulded whilst it is susceptible, and the mind trained while it is retentive." Erasmus, writing to William, duke of Cleves, warns him in the following words : " Therefore bestow especial pains upon his tenderest years ; as Virgil teaches, ' Handle the wax while it is soft, mould the clay while it is moist, dye the fleece before it gathers stains.' It is no light task to educate our children aright." " Give me a child till he is seven, and I care not who has him after," is a remark attributed to Ignatius Loyola ; and the Abbé Galiani utters a still more startling rendering of the underlying idea when he tells Madame d'Epinay that a child has taken his ply for good or evil by the time he is two.

The list of similar opinions might be lengthened enormously, but the above are sufficiently representative.

In the pages of Quintilian we are introduced to the four classes of people who surrounded Roman youth : the nurse, the parents, the young slaves, and the paedagogus. From this we see that Roman matrons had by his day abandoned pretty generally the actual training up of their youthful children : we gather from what he says that the nurse's influence was incessant :1 "Before all things, let the talk of the child's nurses not be ungrammatical. Chrysippus wished them, if possible, to be women of some knowledge ; at any rate he would have the best, as far as circumstances would allow choice. To their morals, doubtless, attention is first to be paid ; but let them also speak with propriety. It is they that the child will hear first : it is their words that he will try to form by imitation. We are by nature most tenacious of what we have imbibed in our infant years ; as the flavour, with which you scent vessels, when new, remains in them ; nor can the colours of wool, for which its plain whiteness has been exchanged, be effaced."

Quintilian requires a similar excellence of speech from the young slaves (Pueris is the word used, but it is understood to signify slave-boys) among whom he will grow up.

The modern exaltation of " Pedagogy " must not lead anyone to uplift the old Roman pedagogue unduly. He was a slave, of superior standing, who sometimes won his freedom, and often had received education.

Palaemon, who was in all probability Quintilian's preceptor, was in the beginning of things a paedagogus, a slave, who first acquired the beginning of learning as he took his master's son to and from school. There is a well-known passage in St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians where he writes : " Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ." This passage has been rendered by Drs. Ellicott, Jowett, and Wordsworth, "the law became the slave who led us to school."

If 54 A.D. be the date of the Epistle to the Galatians, it is clear that this habit of employing paedagogi to accompany boys to school was well established before Quintilian wrote his Institutes.

Before passing on to his account of contemporary schools, it seems worth while to notice his advice on home education, that which occurs before the child, in his own quaint phrase, "leaves the lap" (exire de gremio). He is aware, at the outset, of the dignity of real knowledge, of the gap between it and the meretricious assumption of it by the genuinely ignorant : 1 " Of paedagogi this further may be said, that they should either be men of acknowledged learning, which I should wish to be the first object, or that they should be conscious of their want of learning ; for none are more pernicious than those who, having gone some little beyond the first elements, clothe themselves in a mistaken persuasion of their own knowledge."

Then Quintilian urges that a boy, a Roman boy, of course, should begin Greek before Latin : " Because he will acquire Latin, which is in general use, even though we tried to prevent him ; and because, at the same time, he ought first to be instructed in Greek learning, from which ours is derived."

It is this kind of plan which, many centuries later, was followed by Montaigne's father when he engaged as a tutor for his infant boy a German who knew no French, but who conversed fluently in Latin. Consequently, Montaigne could speak Latin before the tongue of his own Périgord.

Later on Quintilian urges that a child's instruction is to be an amusement to him. Yet he does not push his theory nearly so far as some modern educators, for it is perfectly evident that the robust Roman expects and requires effort on the pupil's part.

It is interesting to notice the stress which he lays on the mechanical art of writing. Aeneas Sylvius, in the later years of the Italian Renaissance, urged the importance of this upon a prince whom he was advising, observing that it was no credit to Alfonso the Magnanimous that his signature resembled a worm crawling over the paper ; but it is not a matter which commonly evokes the enthusiasm of teacher or taught. Quintilian is emphatic:' "The accomplishment of writing well and expeditiously, which is commonly disregarded by people of quality, is by no means an indifferent matter ; for as writing itself is the principal thing in our studies, and that by which alone sure proficiency, resting on the deepest roots, is secured, a too slow way of writing retards thought, a rude and confused hand cannot be read; and hence follows another task, that of reading off what is to be copied from the writing. At all times, there-fore, and in all places, and especially in writing private and familiar letters, it will be a source of pleasure to us not to have neglected even this acquirement."

Francis Bacon, one day long enough off from Quintilian's, well put the matter somewhat differently: I "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man."

Once more Quintilian gives a piece of advice concerning those little people still in the care of the nursery. Like Erasmus, he does not contemn the wise saw, the moral apothegm : 2 "Since, too, we are still attending to small matters, I would express the wish that even the lines which are set him for his imitation in writing should not contain useless sentences, but such as convey some moral instruction. The remembrance of such admonitions will attend him to old age, and will be of use even for the formation of his character." Similarly, Erasmus did not despise the copy-book maxim, or even the inscription on a cup : 3 "These are all devices for adding to our stores, which, trivial as they may seem individually, have a distinct cumulative value."

The schools of the Empire appear to have been, during the first century A.D., what we should call "private-venture" schools. These are known as grammar-schools, and Roman boys entered them about the age of seven, and remained in them, as a rule, for seven years. Above these were the schools of Rhetoric and famous schools of learning ; but these latter rather resembled a modern University College than a boys' school. The curriculum in the grammar schools differed in different places : in the great towns the " beggarly elements," " the three It's," were taught, but the main business of the school was Grammar, interpreting that word in the ancient fashion, which included in its meaning the study of the structure and right use of language, together with knowledge and understanding of the great critics, and a critical appreciation of literary style. M. Boissier (La Fin du Paganisme, vol. i. bk. i. chap. i.) explains the vast contents of "grammar" as understood in Rome. It naturally dealt with words and sounds ; and the contents of literature, verse and prose, were added soon. But that by no means exhausted the subject : "The study of all existing literature did not seem enough to occupy the grammarians' time : they added on all those accessory sciences which are indispensable if pupils are to understand what they read. Is it possible that they should scan verse and appreciate its rhythm if they are ignorant of music? The grammarian must teach them, then. The poets are full of passages describing the sky and the rising and setting of the planets, how are they to understand these unless the grammarian teaches them astronomy? Finally, since there are whole poems, notably those of Empedocles and Lucretius, which are devoted to the exposition and discussion of philosophic systems, it is well that the pupils should comprehend philosophy ; and philosophy cannot be grasped without some notion of the exact sciences, above all of geology and mathematics. Well, then, grammar embraces the whole circle of human knowledge."

In country places where few well-to-do people sent their children to school, probably the matter of teaching was confined mainly to the elementary subjects—reading, writing, and arithmetic.

At the beginning of his treatise, Quintilian is undoubtedly referring to the grammar schools, because he writes :1 " Let us suppose that the child now gradually increases in size, leaves the lap, and applies himself to learning in earnest." We could hardly suppose he would " leave the lap " later than the age of seven, the usual one of entry into the grammar schools.

In the second chapter of the first book of his Institutes, Quintilian writes on the comparative merits of the public school and the private tutor in a vein which recalls Locke. Mingled with this main subject are sundry observations on general methods ; but there is nothing in any of it to suggest that schools, as such, were not, in his time, an ancient institution in Rome. The problems which he raises, the advice he tenders, have an oddly familiar air to us of the twentieth century ; and the reader finds himself wondering why education is still an anxiety to the theorists and legislators, since the rationale of it was so thoroughly grasped in the first century. The arguments in favour of the private tutor, Quintilian reduces to two : he takes greater pre-cautions concerning his pupil's morals, and he devotes more time to him than a schoolmaster with a number of pupils can do.

But, says this teacher, who, let us remember, has worked at his profession for twenty years, morals are corrupted at home as well as at school : " The private tutor may be himself of bad character : nor is intercourse with vicious slaves at all safer than that with not particularly moral free-born youths." He is evidently of opinion that temperament is more responsible than environment : " It is the disposition of the pupil, and the care taken of him, that makes the whole difference." (It should be said that different texts render this sentence variously.) Quintilian adds a recommendation with which Locke must have been familiar : " If his disposition be good, and if there be not a blind and indolent negligence on the part of his parents, it will be possible for them to select a tutor of irreproachable character (a matter to which the utmost attention is paid by sensible parents), and to fix on a course of instruction of the very strictest kind."

But, after all, the point of interest now is the arrangement of a Roman grammar school. Quintilian throws light on the system of classes, on class management, on individual attention to pupils ; and then he descants on the effects of public school education.

He tells us, for instance, that in his own school —which was probably presided over by Quintus Remmius Palaemon, the freed slave who became a famous Roman grammarian—the masters 1 "divided the boys into classes," and then "assigned them their order in speaking in conformity to the abilities of each." Quintilian seems to have had no scruples about awaking the spirit of emulation, for he advocates school life on the ground that " the mind requires to be constantly excited and roused," and remarks on the presence of this feeling in his old school: "Judgments were pronounced on the performances, and great was the strife among us for distinction ; but to take the lead of the class was by far the greatest honour." He is absolutely convinced of the value to the individual of living in a diverse ii. 23.

crowd which in one way or another spurs him on perpetually : sloth, rust, or the " empty conceit" of one " who compares himself to no one else," struck him as worse snares than emulation :1 " At home he can learn only what is taught himself ; at school, even what is taught others. He will daily hear many things commended, many things corrected ; the idleness of a fellow student, when reproved, will be a warning to him ; the industry of anyone, when commended, will be a stimulus ; emulation will be excited by praise ; and he will think it a disgrace to yield to his equals in age, and an honour to surpass his seniors. All these matters excite the mind ; and though ambition itself be a vice, yet it is often the parent of virtues."

As to actual class management, it would appear that in many subjects Quintilian approved the method often labelled injuriously the lecture system : 2 " The instructions which are to be given to each may reach to many. Most of them, indeed, are of ' such a nature that they may be communicated to all at once with the same exertion of voice."

There can be no doubt that he attached great importance to the plan of letting the pupil do much work alone without supervision and help. This appears in his argument that a single pupil does not afford a tutor sufficient scope of his activity : " The tutor does not stand by the pupil while he is writing, or learning by heart, or thinking ; and when he is engaged in any of these exercises the company of any person whatsoever is a hindrance to him." The last sentence, in its emphatic approval of solitary effort, applies equally well to the schoolboy as to the object of private tuition. At the same time, Quintilian is not so wedded to class teaching, to the system which reaches and deals with many simultaneously, that he cannot value the occasional use of " tutorial " help to individual schoolboys. He speaks of prcelectio which Spalding interprets as that individual explanatory instruction which a master gives to one pupil at a time : and again he assumes that the master will " have regard in his teaching, not so much to duty as to affection"; and this being so, no " master who is in the slightest degree tinctured with literature will fail particularly to cherish that pupil in whom he shall observe application and genius, even for his own honour." It is interesting to recollect that the famous Mantuan schoolmaster Vittorino da Feltre, who was a student of " the great Quintilian," proved the truth of this assertion. Prendilacqua writes : " I remember that Vittorino, now well advanced in years, would of a winter's morning come early, candle in one hand and book in the other, and rouse a pupil in whose progress he was specially interested; he would leave him time to dress, waiting patiently till he was ready; then he would hand him the book, and encourage him with grave and earnest words to high endeavour."

That Quintilian was a careful observer of children is seen in his remark, that besides the advantage of emulation in a school, the imitation of his peers is valuable to a boy ; " the imitation of their school-fellows is more pleasant than that of their master, for the very reason that it is more easy." Quintilian uses the word imitatio, so that his meaning is plain. Possibly Roman children differed from English in this, because of the latter one would be inclined to say, so far as any generalisation is possible, that they imitate their elders with some pleasure, but that they attach more importance to the opinion of their peers.

It is evident that the keenness and variety of a school appealed to Quintilian, for he refers feelingly to the dulness of private tuition: Masters them-selves, when they have but one pupil at a time with them, cannot feel the same degree of energy and spirit in addressing him, as when they are stimulated by a large number of hearers."

Yet another advantage does he claim for school life : " I say nothing' of friendships formed at school, which remain in full force even to old age, as if cemented with a certain religious obligation ; for to have been initiated in the same studies is a not less sacred bond than to have been initiated in the same sacred rites."

Quintilian comments on that difficulty, deep in the root of things, which besets each teacher, the variety of dispositions in his flock. It is sometimes said that the skilful teacher is distinguished from the unskilful by his capacity to deal with the dull and untoward pupil. Either this is untrue or Quintilian was an unskilful teacher, since he shows no longing for poor material : 2 "Let the boy be given to me whom praise stimulates, whom honour delights, who weeps when he is unsuccessful." He bars out corporal punishment, which fact those people, one can hardly call them teachers, who aim at correcting stupidity by the rod, may use to explain his liking for the quick. Quintilian was without doubt an innovator here. M. Boissier shows that the rod and the birch were in constant use in Roman schools : he describes a mural painting found at Pompeii which depicts a school-beating in all its vigour. But Quintilian, like most humane teachers, retains severe discipline while he dispenses with beating : " A child is as early as possible, therefore, to be admonished that he must do nothing too eagerly, nothing dishonestly, nothing without self control ; and we must always keep in mind the maxim of Virgil, Adeo in teneris consuescere multumest, of so much importance is the acquisition of habit in the young." Lest anyone should suppose that the bow was ever kept on the stretch by Quintilian, it is well to add his remark : " Nor will play in boys displease me: it is also a sign of vivacity ; and I cannot expect that he who is always dull and spiritless will be of an eager disposition in his studies, when he is indifferent even to that excitement which is natural to his age."

It has seemed more worth while to dwell upon these general observations than upon Quintilian's advice as to the curriculum. This latter for young boys included the study of grammar, as we under-stand the word, spelling, writing, reading, study of Latin and Greek authors (Homer and Virgil first, selected lyric poets, " the Greeks are licentious in many of their writings, and I should be loth to interpret Horace in certain passages " ; certain comedies, Aesop, Cicero, and " those writings . . . which may best nourish the mind and enlarge the thinking powers ") I : music, geometry, astronomy, and elocution, as we should call it. After this training the boy is to enter the School of Rhetoric, a date too long deferred according to Quintilian in the current practice of his day. The general observations give us a more lively picture, one invested with atmosphere and reality, of the inside of a Roman school, than any length of disquisition on the curriculum could do. From the above description an idea can be gained of both, i.e. of curriculum and general atmosphere, as they were awaiting the Christian community, if it should choose to avail itself of them.

" The Grammar School," writes Dr. Bigg, " was a powerful agent in the diffusion of Roman culture ; and under the Empire the system was extended with great rapidity into the most distant parts of the province. In Southern Gaul both Grammar and Rhetoric were taught from a very early date at Marseilles, Autun, Lyons, and Bordeaux. Later on we read of flourishing schools at Toulouse, Narbonne, Trèves, and in all the chief cities of the Gallic provinces. The famous Agricola, who had received his own education at Marseilles, established Roman schools for the sons of the native chieftains in newly conquered Britain ; and Juvenal tells us in his hyperbolical way that even Thule, the unknown North, is beginning to talk of hiring a professor of rhetoric. Spain also was covered with schools. Even little mining villages in the south of Portugal were not left unprovided ; and Augustine shows us that in Africa the same state of things existed. Everywhere the schoolmaster followed the standard, and the subdued barbarian was carefully drilled in the arts of peace." M. Boissier dwells on the fact that education followed the sword :1 " Hardly had the Roman armies penetrated into unknown regions before they founded schools in them : the rhetorician followed close on the heels of the victorious general, and they brought civilisation with them. Agricola's first care when he had pacified Brittany was to order that the children should be taught the liberal arts. . . . Hardly had Caesar conquered the Gauls before a school was opened at Antium. It flourished at once ; and we know that a few years later, in the reign of Tiberius, the children of the Gallic nobility came even in crowds to study grammar and rhetoric."

The primitive Christian, however, was neither a barbarian nor subdued, and while he occasionally availed himself of the Roman system of education, he developed one of his own, which in such a place as Alexandria attained excellence, and a celebrity which is not the invariable corollary of excellence.

Home | More Articles | Email: info@oldandsold.com