Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davidson

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davidson

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:39 am

Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals
by Thomas Davidson
New York
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1892
© 1892 by Charles Scribner's Sons




Table of Contents:

o PART I: THE "OLD EDUCATION" (B.C. 776-480).
o PART II: THE "NEW EDUCATION" (B.C. 480-338).
• BOOK III: ARISTOTLE (B.C. 384-322).
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:40 am


In undertaking to treat of Aristotle as the expounder of ancient educational ideas, I might, with Kapp's Aristoteles' Staatspaedagogikbefore me, have made my task an easy one. I might simply have presented in an orderly way and with a little commentary, what is to be found on the subject of education in his various works—Politics, Ethics, Rhetoric, Poetics, etc. I had two reasons, however, for not adopting this course: (1) that this work had been done, better than I could do it, in the treatise referred to, and (2) that a mere restatement of what Aristotle says on education would hardly have shown his relation to ancient pedagogy as a whole. I therefore judged it better, by tracing briefly the whole history of Greek education up to Aristotle and down from Aristotle, to show the past which conditioned his theories and the future which was conditioned by them. Only thus, it seemed to me, could his teachings be seen in their proper light. And I have found that this method has many advantages, of which I may mention one. It has enabled me to show the close connection that existed at all times between Greek education and Greek social and political life, and to present the[vi] one as the reflection of the other. And this is no small advantage, since it is just from its relation to the whole of life that Greek education derives its chief interest for us. We can never, indeed, return to the purely political education of the Greeks; they themselves had to abandon that, and, since then,

A boundless hope has passed across the earth—

a hope which gives our education a meaning and a scope far wider than any that the State aims at; but in these days, when the State and the institution which embodies that hope are contending for the right to educate, it cannot but aid us in settling their respective claims, to follow the process by which they came to have distinct claims at all, and to see just what these mean. This process, the method which I have followed has, I hope, enabled me, in some degree, to bring into clearness. This, at all events, has been one of my chief aims.

In treating of the details of Greek educational practice, I have been guided by a desire to present only, or mainly, those which contribute to make up the complete picture. For this reason I have omitted all reference to the training for the Olympic and other games, this (so it seems to me) being no essential part of the system.

It would have been easy for me to give my book a learned appearance, by checkering its pages with references to ancient authors, or quotations, in the original, from them; but this has seemed to me both unnecessary and unprofitable in a work intended for the general public. I have, therefore, preferred to place at the heads of the different chapters, in English mostly, such quotations as seemed to express, in the most striking way, the spirit of the different periods and theories of Greek education. Taken together, I believe these quotations will be found to present a fairly definite outline of the whole subject.

In conclusion, I would say that, though I have used a few modern works, such as those of Kapp and Grasberger, I have done so almost solely for the sake of finding references. In regard to every point I believe I have turned to the original sources. If, therefore, my conclusions on certain points differ from those of writers of note who have preceded me, I can only say that I have tried to do my best with the original materials before me. I am far from flattering myself that I have reached the truth in every case, and shall be very grateful for corrections, in whatever spirit they may be offered; but I trust that I have been able to present in their essential features, the "ancient ideals of education."

Keene, Essex Co., N.Y.
October, 1891.


Page 19, line 5 from below, insert 102.
53, " 6""" 133.
181, " 14"" for "and" read "or."
250, " 11""" "Watsno" read "Watson."
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:46 am


Nothing in excess!


No citizen has a right to consider himself as belonging to himself; but all ought to regard themselves as belonging to the State, inasmuch as each is a part of the State; and care for the part naturally looks to care for the whole.


Greek life, in all its manifestations, was dominated by a single idea, and that an æsthetic one. This idea, which worked sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, was Proportion. The Greek term for this (Logos) not only came to designate the incarnate Word of Religion, but has also supplied many modern languages with a name for the Science of Manifested Reason—Logic. To the Greek, indeed, Reason always meant ratio, proportion; and a rational life meant to him a life of which all the parts, internal and external, stood to each other in just proportion. Such proportion was threefold; first, between the different parts of the individual human being; second, between the individual and his fellows in a social whole; third, between the human, as such, and the overruling divine. The realization of this threefold harmony in the indi[4]vidual was called by the Greeks Worth (Ἀρετή, usually, but incorrectly, rendered Virtue). There has come down to us, from the pen of Aristotle, in whom all that was implicit in Hellenism became explicit, a portion of a pæan addressed to this ideal. It may be fitly inserted here, in a literal translation.

To Worth.

O Worth! stern taskmistress of human kind,
Life's noblest prize:
O Virgin! for thy beauty's sake
It is an envied lot in Hellas even to die,
And suffer toils devouring, unassuaged—
So well dost thou direct the spirit
To fruit immortal, better than gold
And parents and soft-eyed sleep.
For thy cause Jove-born Hercules and Leda's sons
Much underwent, by deeds
Thy power proclaiming.
For love of thee Achilles and Ajax to Hades' halls went down.
For thy dear beauty's sake Atarneus' nursling too widowed the glances of the sun.
Therefore, as one renowned for deeds and deathless, him the Muses shall exalt,
The daughters of Memory, exalting so the glory of Stranger-guarding Jove, and the honor of friendship firm.

With regard to this ideal, four things are especially noteworthy; first, that it took an exhaustive survey of man's nature and relations; second, that it called for strong, persistent, heroic effort; third, that it tended to sink the individual in the social whole and the universal order; fourth, that its aim was, on the whole, a static perfection. The first two were merits; the second two, demerits. The first merit prevented the[5] Greeks from pursuing one-sided systems of education; the second, from trying to turn education into a means of amusement. Aristotle says distinctly, "Education ought certainly not to be turned into a means of amusement; for young people are not playing when they are learning, since all learning is accompanied with pain." The first demerit was prejudicial to individual liberty, and therefore obstructive of the highest human development; the second encouraged Utopian dreams, which, being always of static conditions, undisturbed by the toils and throes essential to progress, tend to produce impatience of that slow advance whereby alone man arrives at enduring results. To this tendency we owe such works as Plato's Republic and Xenophon's Education of Cyrus.
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:47 am


With thee the aged car-borne Peleus sent me on the day whereon from Phthia to Agamemnon he sent thee, a mere boy, not yet acquainted with mutual war or councils, in which men rise to distinction—for this end he sent me forth to teach thee all these things, to be a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.

—(Phœnix in) Homer.

Above all and by every means we provide that our citizens shall have good souls and strong bodies.


Life is the original school—life, domestic and social. All other schools merely exercise functions delegated by the family and by society, and it is not until the latter has reached such a state of complication as to necessitate a division of labor that special schools exist. Among the Homeric Greeks we find no mention of schools, and the only person recorded as having had a tutor is Achilles, who was sent away from home so early in life as to be deprived of that education which he would naturally have received from his father. In what that education consisted, we learn from the first quotation at the head of this chapter. It consisted in such training as would make the pupil "a speaker of words and a doer of deeds"—a man eloquent and persuasive in council, and brave and resolute on the field of battle. For these ends he required, as Lucian says, a good soul and a strong body.

These expressions mark the two great divisions into which Greek education at all periods fell—Mental Education and Physical Education—as well as their original aims, viz. goodness (that is, bravery) of soul and strength of body. As time went on, these aims underwent considerable changes, and consequently the means for attaining them considerable modifications and extensions. Physical education aimed more and more at beauty and grace, instead of strength, while mental education, in its effort to extend itself to all the powers of the mind, divided itself into literary and musical education.

As we have seen, the Greeks aimed at developing all the powers of the human being in due proportion and harmony. But, in course of time, they discovered that the human creature comes into the world with his powers, not only undeveloped, but already disordered and inharmonious; that not only do the germs of manhood require to be carefully watched and tended, but also that the ground in which they are to grow must be cleared from an overgrowth of choking weeds, before education can be undertaken with any hope of success. This clearing process was called by the later Greeks Katharsis, or Purgation, and played an ever-increasing part in their pedagogical systems. It was supposed to do for man's emotional nature what Medicine undertook to do for his body. The means employed were mainly music and the kindred arts, which the ancients believed to exert what we should now call a dæmonic effect upon the soul, drawing off the exciting causes of disturbing passion, and leaving it in complete possession of itself. It would hardly be too much to say that the power to exert this purgative influence on the soul was regarded by the ancients[8] as the chief function and end of the Fine Arts. Such was certainly Aristotle's opinion.

When purgation and the twofold education of body and mind had produced their perfect work, the result was what the Greeks called Kalokagathia (καλοκἀγαθία) that is, Fair-and-Goodness. Either half of this ideal was named ἀρετή (aretê), Worth or Excellence. We are expressly told by Aristotle (Categories, chap. viii.) that the adjective to ἀρετή is σπουδαῖος (spoudaios), a word which we usually render into English by "earnest." And we do so with reason; for to the Greek, Excellence or Worth meant, above all, earnestness, genuineness, truthfulness, thoroughness, absence of frivolity.
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:49 am


Some hold that men become good by nature, others by training, others by instruction. The part that is due to nature obviously does not depend upon us, but is imparted through certain divine causes to the truly fortunate.


It is not merely begetting that makes the father, but also the imparting of a noble education.

—John Chrysostom.

There are two sorts of education, the one divine, the other human. The divine is great and strong and easy; the human small and weak and beset with many dangers and delusions. Nevertheless, the latter must be added to the former, if a right result is to be reached.

—Dion Chrysostom.

The same thing that we are wont to assert regarding the arts and sciences, may be asserted regarding moral worth, viz. that the production of a completely just character demands three conditions—nature, reason, and habit. By "reason" I mean instruction, by "habit," training.... Nature without instruction is blind; instruction without nature, helpless; exercise (training) without both, aimless.


To the realization of their ideal in any individual the Greeks conceived three conditions to be necessary, (1) a noble nature, (2) persistent exercise or training in right action, (3) careful instruction. If any one of these was lacking, the highest result could not be attained.

(1) To be well or nobly born was regarded by the Greeks as one of the best gifts of the gods. Aristotle defines noble birth as "ancient wealth and worth," and this fairly enough expresses the Greek view[10] generally. Naturally enough, therefore, the Greek in marrying looked above all things to the chances of a worthy offspring. Indeed, it may be fairly said that the purpose of the Greek in marriage was, not so much to secure a helpmeet for himself as to find a worthy mother for his children. In Greece, as everywhere else in the ancient world, marriage was looked upon solely as an arrangement for the procreation and rearing of offspring. The romantic, pathological love-element, which plays so important a part in modern match-making, was almost entirely absent among the Greeks. What love there was, assumed either the noble form of enthusiastic friendship or the base one of free lust. In spite of this, and of the fact that woman was regarded as a means and not as an end, the relations between Greek husbands and wives were very often such as to render the family a school of virtue for the children. They were noble, sweet, and strong,—all the more so, it should seem, that they were based, not upon a delusive sentimentality, but upon reason and a sense of reciprocal duty.

(2) The value of exercise, practice, habituation, seems to have been far better understood by the ancients than by the moderns. Whatever a man has to do, be it speaking, swimming, playing, or fighting, he can learn only by doing it; this was a universally accepted maxim. The modern habit of trying to teach languages and virtues by rules, not preceded by extensive practice, would have seemed to the ancients as absurd as the notion that a man could learn to swim before going into the water. Practice first; theory afterwards: do the deed, and ye shall know of the[11] doctrine—so said ancient Wisdom, to which the notion that children should not be called upon to perform any act, or submit to any restriction, without having the grounds thereof explained to them, would have seemed the complete inversion of all scientific method. It was by insisting upon a certain practice in children, on the ground of simple authority, that the ancients sought to inculcate the virtues of reverence for experience and worth, and respect for law.

(3) The work begun by nature, and continued by habit or exercise, was completed and crowned by instruction. This had, according to the Greek, two functions, (a) to make action free, by making it rational, (b) to make possible an advance to original action. Nature and habit left men thralls, governed by instincts and prescriptions; instruction, revelation of the grounds of action, set them free. Such freedom, based on insight, was to the thinkers of Greece the realization of manhood, or rather, of the divine in man. "The truth shall make you free"—no one understood this better than they. Hence, with all their steady insistence upon practice in education, they never regarded it as the ultimate end, or as any end at all, except when guided by insight, the fruit of instruction. A practicality leading to no widening of the spiritual horizon, to no freeing insight, was to them illiberal, slavish, paltry—"banausic," they said,—degrading both to body and soul.
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:49 am


It is right that Greeks should rule over barbarians, but not barbarians over Greeks; for those are slaves, but these are free men.


Barbarian and slave are by nature the same.


Nature endeavors to make the bodies of freemen and slaves different; the latter strong for necessary use, the former erect and useless for such operations, but useful for political life.... It is evident, then, that by nature some men are free, others slaves, and that, in the case of the latter, slavery is both beneficial and just.


Instruction, though it plainly has power to direct and stimulate the generous among the young ... is as plainly powerless to turn the mass of men to nobility and goodness (Kalokagathia). For it is not in their nature to be guided by reverence, but by fear, nor to abstain from low things because they are disgraceful, but (only) because they entail punishment.


In thinking of Greek education as furnishing a possible model for us moderns, there is one point which it is important to bear in mind: Greek education was intended only for the few, for the wealthy and well-born. Upon all others, upon slaves, barbarians, the working and trading classes, and generally upon all persons spending their lives in pursuit of wealth or any private ends whatsoever, it would have seemed to be thrown away. Even well-born women were generally excluded from most of its benefits. The subjects of education were the sons of full citi[13]zens, themselves preparing to be full citizens, and to exercise all the functions of such. The duties of such persons were completely summed up under two heads, duties to the family and duties to the State, or, as the Greeks said, œconomic and political duties. The free citizen not only acknowledged no other duties besides these, but he looked down upon persons who sought occupation in any other sphere. Œconomy and Politics, however, were very comprehensive terms. The former included the three relations of husband to wife, father to children, and master to slaves and property; the latter, three public functions, legislative, administrative, and judiciary. All occupations not included under these six heads the free citizen left to slaves or resident foreigners. Money-making, in the modern sense, he despised, and, if he devoted himself to art or philosophy, he did so only for the benefit of the State. If he improved the patrimony which was the condition of his free citizenship, he did so, not by chaffering or money-lending, but by judicious management, and by kindly, but firm, treatment of his slaves. If he performed any great artistic service to the State—for example, if he wrote a tragedy for a State religious festival (and plays were never written for any other purpose)—the only reward he looked forward to was a crown of olive or laurel and the respect of his fellow-citizens.

The Greeks divided mankind, in all the relations of life, into two distinct classes, a governing and a governed, and considered the former alone as the subject of education; the latter being a mere instrument in its hands. The governing class required education[14] in order that it might govern itself and the other class, in accordance with reason and justice; that other, receiving its guidance from the governing class, required no education, or only such as would enable it to obey. It followed that the duty of the governing class was to govern; of the governed, to obey. Only in this correlation of duties did each class find its usefulness and satisfaction. Any attempt to disturb or invert this correlation was a wilful running in the teeth of the laws of nature, a rebellion against the divine order of things.

As husband, father, master in the family, and as legislator, officer, judge in the State, each member of the governing class found his proper range of activities; and he did wrong, degrading himself to the level of the serving class, if he sought any other. This view, in a more or less conscious form, pervades the whole ancient world, conditioning all its notions and theories of education; and Paul the Apostle only echoed it when he said to wives: "Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands as to the Lord"; to children: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right"; and to slaves: "Slaves, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as unto Christ."
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:50 am


The peculiar character of each form of government is what establishes it at the beginning and what usually preserves it.... Since the whole State has but one end, it is plainly necessary that there should be one education for all the citizens.


Education among the Greeks, as among every other progressive people, varied with times and circumstances. The education of the Homeric Greeks was not that of the Athenians in the days of Aristotle, nor the latter the same as the education of the contemporary Spartans or Thebans. Moreover, the education actually imparted was not the same as that demanded or recommended by philosophers and writers on pedagogics. It is true that the aim was always the same; Worth, Excellence, Fair-and-Goodness (ἀρετή, καλοκἀγαθία); but this was differently conceived and differently striven after at different times and in different places.

Among the Homeric Greeks, as we have seen, education, being purely practical, aiming only at making its subject "a speaker of words and a doer of deeds," was acquired in the actual intercourse and struggles of life. The simple conditions of their existence demanded no other education and, consequently, no special educational institutions. These conditions, as[16] described by Homer, though by no means barbarous, are primitive. Nomadism has long been left behind and the later village-communities have been mostly merged in walled towns, generally situated at some distance from the shore, on or near a hill, whose summit forms a citadel for refuge in cases of danger. Even in the most advanced of these towns, however, the type of civilization is still largely patriarchal. The government is in the hands of chiefs or kings (βασιλῆες) claiming to be born and bred of Jove, as, indeed, in a sense, they were, since they ruled quite as much by right of personal worth, which more than anything is due to the grace of God, as by hereditary title. Worth in those days consisted in physical strength, courage, beauty, judgment, and power to address an assembly, and any king proving deficient in these qualities would soon have found his position insecure, or been compelled to fortify it by lawless tyranny. The functions devolving upon the king were mainly three, those of judge, military commander, and priest. The first required judgment and ready speech; the second, strength and intelligent courage; the third, personal beauty and dignity. Though the kings were allowed to exercise great power, this was not irresponsible or arbitrary. On the contrary, it was compatible with great public freedom in speech and action. Slavery existed only to a limited extent and in a mild form. All free heads of families, however poor, had a right to attend the popular assembly, which the king consulted on all important matters, and at which the freëst discussion was allowed. When the kings exercised judicial power, they did so in accordance with[17] certain themistes or laws, held to have originated with Zeus, and not according to their own caprice. As there was little commerce in those days, the inhabitants of the ancient cities, when not engaged in warfare, devoted themselves chiefly to agriculture, cattle-raising, and the useful arts. In these even the kings thought it no shame to engage. We find Paris helping to build his own palace, Odysseus constructing his own bed, Lycaon cutting wood to make chariot-rails, and so on. Similarly, we find Helen and other princesses spinning and weaving, while Nausicaa, the daughter of the Phæacian king, washes the clothes of the family.

In such a primitive society, unacquainted with letters, the higher education found but few aspirants. The only persons of scientific pretensions mentioned by Homer are the physicians (who are likewise surgeons) and the soothsayers. The former are highly appreciated, and are always chiefs. The soothsayers are the exponents of divine omens to the community, and occupy a kind of official position, like the Hebrew prophets. No artists, strictly speaking, are mentioned by Homer, except the bard, and he is much honored, as historian, teacher, and inspirer. We find, indeed, that Achilles and Paris are proficients in music; but such cases seem exceptional. Of artisans, several are mentioned—the worker in wood, the worker in horn and ivory, the potter (who uses the wheel), and so on. The existence of others is implied—the weaver, the mason, the metal-worker, etc.

If there were no special schools in the heroic age, life was so lived as to be an excellent school. Then,[18] as at all other times, it was extremely social, far more so than our modern life. This was due chiefly to three causes, (1) the smallness of the states, which made it possible for every citizen to know, and to feel his solidarity with, every other, (2) the absence of titles and formalities, which had not yet been introduced from the East, (3) the fact that the people, especially the men, spent the greater part of the day in the open air,—in the streets and agora,—and so were continually rubbing against each other. This sociality had much to do with the shaping of the Greek character, the salient elements of which are thus enumerated by Zeller, the historian of Greek philosophy: "A strong sense of freedom, combined with a rare susceptibility to proportion, form, and order, a keen relish for companionship in life and action, a social tendency which compelled the individual to combine with others, to submit to the general will, to follow the traditions of his family and his community."

Between the simple social condition described by Homer and that for which Aristotle wrote, there intervened a period of at least six hundred years. During that time many great changes took place in the social and political life of the Greeks, demanding corresponding changes in education. These changes were due to several causes, (1) the natural human tendency toward freedom, (2) the influence of foreign nations, (3) the development of commerce, (4) the introduction of letters, (5) the rise of philosophy, (6) the Persian Wars. Though all these are closely interwoven with each other, there can be no harm in treating them separately.


(1) The tendency toward freedom, so essentially characteristic of human nature, was especially so of the nature of the Greeks. Among them it rapidly manifested itself in an ordered series of political forms, beginning with patriarchalism, and ending variously in the various states and races. There is, indeed, hardly a single form of political life that was not realized among the Greeks at some time or place. It was this that made it possible for Aristotle to write a work on Politics which, in the words of a recent political writer, "has remained for two thousand years one of the purest sources of political wisdom."

The varied and changeful political life of the Greeks was in itself a great education. It made them aware of the principles, political and ethical, upon which society rests, and rendered necessary a faculty of clear and ready expression, which reacted most favorably upon their intellectual and æsthetic faculties. It was in the school of practical politics that the Greeks acquired their rhetoric; and Aristotle, in his treatise on Poetry, tells us that, while "the older poets made their characters talk like statesmen, the later ones made theirs talk like rhetoricians." Not only, indeed, did political life react upon the drama, but, in developing rhetoric, it drew attention to language and led to the sciences of grammar and logic, both of which were thus called into existence by real social needs (see p. 102).

(2) Greece, lying, as it did, between three continents, and in the thoroughfare of the ancient nations, could hardly fail to be visited by many different races, or, considering its beauty and commercial advantages,[20] to be coveted by them. From this followed two consequences, (a) that the Greeks were a very mixed race, (b) that they were, from the first and at all times, in manifold contact with foreign peoples. That they were a mixed race, is attested alike by their language, their mythology, and their legends. That they were in close and continual communication with foreign peoples, is rendered evident by their alphabet, their art, and the direct statements of their historians. Although it is true that the Greeks, especially after the Persian Wars, regarded themselves as a superior and chosen people, calling all others "barbarians," and considering them as fit only to be slaves, it is not the less true that hardly one of all the arts and sciences which they ultimately carried to a high degree of perfection had its origin in Greece proper. All appear first in the colonies settled among "barbarians,"—in Egypt, Asia Minor, Thrace, Crete, Sicily, or Italy. Architecture, sculpture, painting, poetry—epic, lyric, dramatic—music, history, politics, philosophy, were all borrowed, transformed, and, with the exception perhaps of tragedy and painting, carried to a high degree of excellence in the colonies, before they were transplanted to the mother-country. It is beyond any doubt that even the Homeric legends are of "barbarian" origin, though from what people they were borrowed is uncertain. It was the plasticity and versatility of their character, due in part to their mixed blood, that, by enabling them to appropriate and assimilate the arts and sciences of their neighbors, raised the Greeks to a new plane of civilization and made them the initiators of a new epoch in history,[21] the epoch of life according to reason. Sir Henry Sumner Maine says, "Except the blind forces of Nature, nothing moves in this world which is not Greek in its origin."

(3) It was chiefly through commerce that the arts and sciences borrowed by the colonial Greeks found their way into Greece proper. That foreign art-objects were introduced into it at an early period, is rendered certain by the recent discoveries at Mycenæ, Sparta, and other places, as well as by statements in the Homeric poems. That these were followed later by artists, bringing with them foreign art-processes and appliances, is equally certain. The earliest sculptors whose names are known to us, Dipœnis and Scyllis, were natives of Crete, settled in Sicyon; and the earliest poetic guild of which we have any mention is that of the Homeridæ in the island of Chios. But, besides introducing art and artists into Greece, commerce tended to educate the Greeks in other ways. It made them acquainted with foreign manners and luxuries, and forced them to learn the arts of navigation, ship-building and exchange, which again rendered necessary an acquaintance with arithmetic and the art of writing. And this leads us to

(4) The Introduction of Letters. This event, the date of which is uncertain, not only exercised a most furthering influence on the arts and sciences, but gave rise to a new branch of education. Letters were probably first used for diplomatic and trade purposes, then for inscriptions, and last of all for the perpetuation of literary productions. So much of a change did they effect in Greek education that even in the best times[22] the whole of the literary and scientific education was called simply "letters" (γράμματα). As late as the time of Plato letters seem to have been considered a part of Music, and to have been taught by the same teacher as the latter; but Aristotle already distinguishes the two. It is extremely probable that the introduction of letters was the immediate cause of the establishment of schools for youth; for we find no mention of them prior to that event.

(5) The introduction of letters was closely followed by the rise of Philosophy, or the reflective spirit. Up to about the year 600 b.c., the Greeks, like the rest of the world, lived by habit, tradition, and prescription, handed on, with little or no criticism, from generation to generation. Their ideal world was shaped by the works of Homer and Hesiod. "Hesiod is the teacher of most," says Heraclitus. About the date named, however, society having advanced to a condition of organization which made possible a leisure class, there begins to appear a new spirit, destined to revolutionize, not only Greece, but the whole world. Armed with a what? a which? a why? and a wherefore? it no longer blindly accepts the world of nature and man, but calls upon it to give an account of itself. Science, philosophy, and art are the result.

At first the new spirit turns to nature with a what?; but, gradually discovering that the answer to this brings no complete explanation of the world, it propounds its other questions. It thus arrives at a consciousness of four distinguishable elements in the constitution of things,—four causes (αἴτια, αἰτίαι), as they were termed,—(1) matter, (2) form, (3) efficiency,[23] (4) end or aim. At the same time, and by the same process, it is forced to a recognition of the presence of reason (λόγος) and intelligence (νοῦς) in the world, since form, efficiency, and aim all presuppose both. It is thus compelled to turn from nature to man, and man's mind, as the highest known expression of reason and intelligence, and to devote itself to the consideration of spirit, as alone promising any true explanation of the world. The process is a slow and difficult one, and the history of it is the history of Greek science, philosophy, and art.

Before the rise of philosophy, the teacher of the people had been the rhapsode, or public reciter; after that event he gradually gives place to the sophist (σοφιστής, one who makes wise), or, as he later with more modesty calls himself, the philosopher (φιλόσοφος, lover of wisdom). The history of Greece for centuries is, on its inner side, a history of the struggle between what the rhapsode represents and what the philosopher represents, between popular tradition and common sense on the one hand, and individual opinion and philosophy on the other. The transition from the first to the second of these mental conditions was accomplished for the world, once for all, by the Greeks, and the turning-point in the process is marked by

(6) The Persian Wars (b.c. 490-479). The victories gained in these at Marathon, Salamis, and Platææ, victories the most brilliant that history records, exerted a most powerful influence upon the thought and life of the Greeks. The consciousness of having, with their small numbers, over and over again, both by land and by sea, discomfited and crushed the[24] countless hosts of an empire which for generations had threatened their peace and liberty, made them at once feel the superiority of their own characters and civil institutions to those of the Persians, and draw a clear line of demarcation between Greek and barbarian. From this point on, they felt themselves to be a chosen people, a nation destined by the gods to rule all others. "The soul of Greece had conquered the bulk of Persia." Persia was bulk and body; Greece was soul and spirit. This conviction appears at once in all the departments of Greek life. In the sphere of art we may instance the Prometheia of Æschylus and the Parthenon. In the former, what does the conflict between Zeus and Prometheus mean but the conflict between Greek spirituality, intellect, and freedom, on the one hand, and barbarian materiality, instinct, and thraldom or necessity, on the other? And what is the latter but a matchless pæan in stone to Divine Wisdom, as the conqueror of brute force? In the sphere of thought, we find Parmenides, Anaxagoras and, above all, Socrates (born ten years after the second Persian War), turning consciously to the study of spirit. "To be and to think are the same thing," says the first of these: "All things were confused; then Mind came and reduced them to order," says the second; "Know thyself" is the chosen motto of the third. In the political sphere we find the Athenians trying to make the State an instrument of intelligence and virtue, and insisting upon education as a means thereto. Other and less desirable results followed from the Persian Wars; but these can be better stated and estimated in another connection.

Such were the chief causes that contributed to transform the simple patriarchal State of the Homeric Greeks, with its purely practical education at home and in the field, into the free polity of the Greeks of the days of Miltiades, Themistocles, and Æschylus, with its complicated institutions and manifold education. It has seemed better to enumerate these causes than to try to trace the steps of the transformation itself. Indeed this would have been a hopeless task, owing to the lack of historical data.
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:51 am


When they (our ancestors) began to enjoy leisure for thought, as the result of easy circumstances, and to cherish more exalted ideas with respect to worth, and especially when, in the period before and after the Persian Wars, they came to entertain a high opinion of themselves, on account of their achievements, they pursued all kinds of education, making no distinction, but beating about generally.


In treating of Greek education subsequent to the introduction of letters and the establishment of schools, we shall be obliged, in the interest of clearness, to make three distinctions:—

(1) Between the educational systems of different periods.

(2) Between the educational systems of different peoples and states.

(3) Between the education actually imparted in the various states, and that recommended by theorists or philosophers.

In pursuance of the first, it will be convenient first to distinguish two main periods, the Hellenic, and the Hellenistic, and then to subdivide these into minor periods.

I. The Hellenic Period (776-338 b.c.).

This includes, roughly speaking, the whole historic life of free Greece, from the date of the first Olympiad to[27] that of the absorption of Greece into the Macedonian Empire. It naturally subdivides itself into two periods, (a) 776-450; (b) 450-338.

(a) That of the "Old Education," authoritative and puritanical, whose aim was the training of good citizens, god-fearing, law-abiding, patriotic, and brave.

(b) That of the "New Education," rationalistic and "liberal," whose aim was the training of formidable individuals, self-centred, law-despising, time-serving, and cunning.

It is in the struggle between the two systems, and in the practical triumph of the latter, that Greece loses her moral fibre; so that her citizens, weakened through sundering selfishness, fall an easy prey to the foreign invader.

II. The Hellenistic Period (338 b.c.-313 a.d.).

This extends from the Battle of Chæronea, in which Greece lost her independence, to the definitive triumph of Christianity, which brought a new ideal and a new spirit into life and education. It naturally subdivides itself into two periods, (a) b.c. 338-146; (b) b.c. 146-a.d. 313.

(a) The Macedonian Period, during which Macedonian influence prevailed, and Greek thought and education, absorbing foreign, chiefly Oriental, elements, tended toward an encyclopædic cosmopolitanism. During this period, Alexandria is the centre of Greek influence.

(b) The Roman Period, during which, as Horace says, "Captive Greece took captive her rude conqueror," and Rome became, alongside Alexandria, a diffusive centre of Greek thought, art, and education.

[28]Between the two great periods, the Hellenic and the Hellenistic, stands the man who draws up the testament of the former and outlines the programme of the latter, the Macedonian Greek, Aristotle.

Our second distinction will lead us to treat separately, in the Hellenic period, the educational system of the three Greek races, (1) the Æolic, (2) the Doric, (3) the Ionic, the first having its chief centre at Thebes, the second at Sparta, the third at Athens. For an account of the education of the first our data are but meagre; with the main features of Spartan and Athenian education we are well acquainted. In education, as in everything, Sparta was conservative, socialistic, and aristocratic, while Athens tended to liberalism, individualism, and democracy. Hence Sparta clung desperately to the "Old Education," and almost closed her doors against art, letters, and philosophy, while Athens, dragged into the "New Education," became the home of all these. It must always be borne in mind that, in favoring individualism and the "New Education," Athens was abandoning the Hellenic ideal, and paving the way for the cosmopolitanism of the Hellenistic period. In this latter, we shall have to distinguish between the educational systems of Athens, Alexandria, and Rome.

Our third distinction is that between individual theory and popular practice. In all epochs of their history the Greek states produced men who strove to realize in thought and imagination the ideal of their people, and to exhibit it as an aim, an encouragement, and an inspiration, in contrast with the imperfect actual. In more than one case this ideal modified the[29] education of the following periods. Of course, such theories did not arise until practice was compelled to defend itself by producing sanctions, either in religion or in reason, and it may perhaps be affirmed that the aim of them all was to discover such sanctions for the Greek ideal. Among the many educational theorists of Greece, there are six who especially deserve to be considered: (1) Pythagoras, who in Southern Italy sought to graft on the Doric ideal a half-mystical, half-ethical theology, and a mathematical theory of the physical world; (2) Xenophon, who sought to secure the same ideal by connecting it with a monarchical form of government; (3) Plato, who sought to elevate it, and find a sanction for it in his theory of super-sensuous ideas; (4) Aristotle, who presented in all its fulness the Hellenic ideal, and sought to find sanctions for it in history, social well-being, and the promise of a higher life; (5) Quintilian, who, in Rome, embodies the rhetorical or worldly education of the Hellenistic period; and (6) Plotinus, who presents an ideal of philosophical or other-worldly education, and paves the way for the triumph of Christian dogma.
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:52 am


Part I: THE "OLD EDUCATION" (b.c. 776-480)


When we consider the different arts that have been discovered, and distinguish between those which relate to the necessary conditions of life and those which contribute to the free enjoyment of it (διαγωγή), we always consider the man who is acquainted with the latter wiser than him who is acquainted with the former, for the reason that the sciences of the latter have no reference to use. Hence it was only when all the necessary conditions of life had been attained that those arts were discovered which have no reference either to pleasure or to the common needs of life; and this took place first in those countries where men enjoyed leisure.


The free life of God is such as are our brief best moments.


It is not fitting that the free enjoyment of life should be permitted to boys or to young persons; for the crown of perfection belongs not to the imperfect.


Obviously, the free enjoyment of life demands not only the noble but also the pleasant; for happiness consists of these too.


Among the Homeric Greeks, whose life was almost entirely devoted to practical pursuits, education was mainly practical, aiming to produce "a speaker of words and a doer of deeds." As civilization advanced, and higher political forms were evolved, certain classes[34]of men found themselves blessed with leisure which they were not inclined to devote to mere play. In order to make a worthy use of this leisure, they required a certain training in those arts which were regarded as befitting a free man. Education, accordingly, in some states, widened its scope, to include those accomplishments, which enable men to fill their hours of freedom with refined and gracious enjoyment—music and letters. Music, indeed, had been cultivated long before, not only by professional bards, but even by princes, like Achilles and Paris; this, however, was for the sake of amusement and recreation rather than of the free enjoyment of life. It had been regarded as a means, not as an end. We must be careful, in our study of Greek life and education, not to confound play and recreation, which are for the sake of work, with the free enjoyment of life, which is an end in itself, and to which all work is but a means. "Enjoyment is the end." We shall see, as we proceed, to what momentous results this distinction leads, how it governs not only all education but all the institutions of life, and how it finally contributes to break up the whole civilization which it determines. It may fairly be said that Greece perished because she placed the end of life in individual æsthetic enjoyment, possible only for a few and regarding only the few.

In historic Greece, music came to be an essential part of the education of every free man. Even free women learnt it. Along with music went poetry, and when this came to be written down, it was termed "letters." As every free man came to be his own[35] minstrel and his own rhapsode, the professional minstrel and rhapsode disappeared, and the Homeric poems even, in order to be preserved from oblivion, were committed to writing by an enlightened tyrant—Pisistratus.

The first portion of the Greek people that attained a degree of civilization demanding an education for hours of leisure, was the Æolian race, and particularly the Asiatic portion of it. Accordingly we find that all the earliest musicians and poets, didactic and lyric, are Æolians—Hesiod, Terpander, Arion, Alcæus, Sappho, Pittacus, etc. Lesbos seems to have taken the lead in this "higher education." The last five names all belong to that island, which produced also the earliest Greek historian and prose-writer—Hellanicus. But the Æolians, though earliest in the field, were soon outstripped by the other two races, the Doric and the Ionic. Æolian education and culture never advanced beyond music and lyric poetry. It knew no drama, science, or philosophy.

The Æolians were followed, almost simultaneously, by the Dorians and Ionians, who pursued two widely divergent directions. The former borrowed the lyric education and culture of the Æolians, and produced several lyric poets of distinguished merit—Tyrtæus, Alcman, Ibycus, Stesichorus: nay, they even advanced far enough to take the first steps in science, philosophy, and dramatic poetry. Pythagoras, Epicharmus, Sophron, Xenarchus, and Susarion were all Dorians. But the progress of the race was retarded and finally checked by rigid political institutions of a socialistic character, which, by suppressing individual initiative, reduced the whole to immobility.

[36]The Ionians, on the contrary, borrowing freely from both Æolians and Dorians, and evolving ever freer and freer institutions, carried education and culture to a point which has never been passed, and rarely, if ever, reached, in the history of our race. And when they ceased to grow, and decay set in, this was due to exactly the opposite cause to that which stunted them among the Dorians; namely, to excessive individualism, misnamed liberty. Individualism ruined Athens.

Although education assumed different forms among different portions of the Greek race, there are certain features that seem to have been common to all these forms during the epoch of the "Old Education." Two of these deserve attention.

First. Education was everywhere a branch of statecraft, and the State itself was only the highest educational institution. This was equally true whether the schools were public, as at Sparta, or private, as at Athens. Everywhere citizenship was a degree, conferred only upon sons of free citizens, after a satisfactory examination (δοκιμασία).

Second. The stages or grades of education were everywhere the same, although their limits were not everywhere marked by the same number of years. The first, extending usually from birth to the end of the seventh year, was that of home education; the second, extending from the beginning of the eighth year to the end of the sixteenth or, perhaps oftener, the eighteenth year, was that of school education; the third, extending from the beginning of the seventeenth or nineteenth year to the end of the twentieth (in Sparta of the thirtieth), was that of college education,[37] or education for the duties of citizenship; the fourth, including the remainder of life, was that of university education, or education through the State, which then was the only university. At the beginning of the third period, the young men took their first State examination, and if they passed it successfully, they received the degree of Cadet or Citizen-novice (ἔφηβος); but it was only at the beginning of the fourth period, and after they had passed a second examination (δοκιμασία εἰς ἄνδρας), that they received the degree of Man and Citizen and were permitted to exercise all the functions of freemen. The State then became, in a very real sense, their Alma Mater.

In most states, this graded education fell only to the lot of males, the education of females stopping short with the first grade, the family, which was regarded as their only sphere. It was otherwise at Sparta, Teos, and apparently among the Æolians generally. As a consequence it is only among the Æolians and Dorians that any poetesses of note appear—Sappho, Corinna, Telesilla, etc. Although, however, woman's sphere was the family, and she was considered to have done her duty when she worthily filled the place of wife, mother, and mistress, there was nothing to prevent her from acquiring the higher education, if she chose to do so. That she did not often so choose, seems true; still there are examples of learned women even among the Athenians. The daughter of Thucydides is said to have continued his history after his death, and, whether the statement be true or not, the fact that it was made shows that the ability to write history was not regarded as impossible or surprising in a woman.
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Re: Aristotle and Ancient Educational Ideals, by Thomas Davi

Postby admin » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:52 am


Hesiod is the teacher of most.—Heraclitus.

When thou art dead, thou shalt lie in the earth.
Not even the memory of thee shall be
Thenceforward nor forever; for thou hast
No share in the Pierian roses; but
Ev'n in the halls of Hades thou shalt flit,
A frightened shadow, with the shadowy dead.

—Sappho (to an uneducated woman).

What rustic hoyden ever charms the soul,
That round her ankles cannot kilt her coats?—Id.

The Æolians appear to have been the earliest of the Greek races to make any considerable advance in culture. Their claim to Homer can hardly be sustained; but they certainly produced Hesiod, most of the greater lyric poets and poetesses, and the first historian. For a time they bade fair to lead the culture of Greece. But the promise was not fulfilled. During the palmy period of Greek history, they were not only the most uncultured and uncouth of the Greeks, but they even prided themselves upon their boorishness of speech and manner, and derided culture. In the glorious struggle in which Greece maintained the cause of culture and freedom against Persia, Thebes, then the chief centre of Æolianism, sided with the barbarian, as, indeed, was natural.

[39]Theban education was, of course, a reflex of the character of the Theban and, indeed, of the Bœotian, people. Its main divisions were those of Greek education generally,—Gymnastics and Music; but the former was learnt solely for athletic purposes, and the latter mainly for use at banquets and drinking-bouts, in which the Bœotians found their chief delight. Letters were studied as little as at Sparta (see p. 47), and the language of the people remained harsh and unmusical. Of higher education there was hardly a trace. The sophists passed Bœotia by. Even Pindar, who was by birth a Theban, and a sincerely patriotic one, sought and found recognition anywhere rather than among his own people. He did not even write in their dialect.

The reason for this backwardness on the part of the Bœotian Æolians lay in the fact that they lived, as a conquering race, in the midst of a people superior to them in every respect save strength, and could maintain their ascendency only by brute force. When this failed, and the conquered race, which had never forgotten Cadmus and its ancient traditions, came to the front, education and culture found their way even to Thebes. It was due to this change in political conditions that a Pindar could arise, and it was doubtless the demand for culture consequent thereupon that induced certain members of the scattered Pythagorean school (see p. 54) to seek refuge in Thebes and there devote themselves to teaching. Among these were Philolaus[1] and Lysis, the latter of whom was proba[40]bly the author of the famous "Golden Words" (see p. 57). But he has a better claim to fame than this; for he was the teacher of the bravest and most lovable man that Greece ever produced—Epaminondas.

If any enthusiastic believer in the power of education desire to fortify his cause by means of a brilliant example, he will find none superior to Epaminondas; for there can hardly be any question that it was the earnest, systematic, religious, and moral Pythagorean training which he received from the aged Lysis, whom he treated as a father, that made him what he was, and enabled him to do what he did,—which was nothing less than to place Thebes at the head of Greece. Thebes rose and fell with Epaminondas. But that was not all. It was the example of Epaminondas that kindled the ambition of Philip of Macedon, who was educated under his eye, and of his far more famous son, Alexander, who made all Greece a province of his empire. Pythagoras, Lysis, Epaminondas, Philip, Alexander—in five brief generations an earnest teacher conquers a world!

From the time of Epaminondas on, Thebes followed the ordinary course of Greek education.
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