chapter  1
26 Pages

Antiquity

In antiquity the family was the center of the child’s early education. Education proper, paideia, did not begin until the child was seven and was sent to school. Until then, he was “brought up” at home by women, primarily by his mother, and in well-to-do families also by his “nanny.” She was different from the one who might have nursed the child. Usually a slave stayed with the family until she died and was tenderly regarded by the child. During these early years, the child was introduced into social life, shown how to behave and be well mannered and polite, and given some of moral discipline. The early years were devoted to learning the language and something about his own culture. He was introduced to music by listening to cradle songs, and to literature through his “nanny’s” tales, Aesop’s fables, and the myths and legends of gods and heroes. In addition to parents and nurses, many other adults contributed to child rearing: tutors, “companions” (slaves of the same sex as the child), physicians, academic teachers, athletic trainers, and military instructors. The laws of many city-states in antiquity had substantial provisions regulating the ways children were to be reared. Child rearing was an important sociopolitical aspect. The family was the primary unit of social and economic organization in ancient Greece and Rome. Political life was an extension of the family into the public realm.1