Page images

kind, we read in one inscription, were presented by the students of a single year.

The Rectors, too, who did their duty, must receive some sort of testimonial, and have their bronze or marble statues presented to them by their grateful pupils, as men accept their pictures nowadays. It became at last a customary thing to be mentioned in the record of each year; and therefore the honor was but trifling, though the cost was real, and the omission was a slight.

Then, again, there was the cost of their uniforms and arms, which must be of the gayest on parade, when they were playing at the soldier's trade. The wealthier among the members, we are told, were encouraged by the authorities to show their public feeling in promoting common interests, and so, doubtless, spent their money freely to give éclat to their games or their processions. The office of Gymnasiarch especially is recorded as the privilege of men of means who fostered the athletic sports; and, if not in that respect, at least in others, may remind us of the cap. tain of a modern cricket club, or of a college eight.

Something, too, there is which reads as if there had been sconces or fines imposed by the members of each other, in support of social rules or codes of honor; but these were looked on with disfavor from above, as likely to cause jars in the harmony of friendly intercourse; and one rector, at least, put them down.

At length the year drew to its close, and with it the restraints of discipline; but one ordeal still remained to try them. There is no new thing under the sun, and we find that there were examinations, even in old times, at Athens. Plutarch tells us, by the way, that the mayor on one occasion came to the gymnasium to examine the Ephebi “who studied literature and geometry, rhetoric and music.' The ceremony ended with a public dinner, to which all the college tutors were invited, as well as lecturers and men of learning; but the guests, we read, were not so orderly in their behavior as might have been expected. At the end of Term, the town council was expected to attend, and hear the posers do their work; or, as we should say in modern language, the student sat for examination in the Senate-house. There was, probably, no paper work required, but only an oral apposition ; it may be even that the phrase chiefly refers to some manual exercises or parade, more than to tests of intellectual progress. For we do not hear of any class lists; or, rather, those we have, and they are full enough, contain the names only of the prizemen in the races and athletic sports, and do not deal with the cultivation of the mind.

In any case, they do not seem to have hurt themselves with their hard reading: the records insist upon the perfect health enjoyed by all the youths, as fully as if we had the extracts of a sanitary report. They were models, too, of good behavior, those pattern students of old time, if we may trust the complimentary language of the marbles. They went to lectures steadily, and listened quietly to what was told them, and never


rioted about the streets, or fell out in their cups like vulgar fellows in a drunken brawl, nor failed to do what their authorities enjoined, but were quite faultless all the long year through.'

We may naturally ask who were the guardians of a discipline so perfect as to seem more fitly lodged in some cloister of Utopia.

The Head of the college held the title of Cosmetes, or of rector, and was assisted or replaced at times by a subrector; for so custom, though not law, required, since one at least declined to have a formal deputy, and preferred the assistance of his son. There were also various instructors, too low in rank to be like tutors, though for convenience wo may call them by that name. The Rector, appointed only for a year by popular election, was no merely honorary head, but took an important part in the real work of education. He was sometimes clothed with priestly functions; was, as we should say, in Holy Orders; and never failed, so we are often told, to be present at religious service. He went to lectures even with the men, attending sometimes all the public courses with exemplary diligence. But that was not enough. He must go to drill with them at their volunteering; must visit, at their head, the watch-towers and outposts on the frontier, where the Ephebi had been posted in old days; he must look on at their gymnastic feats, and see that they were kept in proper training and were very careful to avoid all coarse and indecorous language; and he must even take some part, as starter, or as judge perhaps, in their boat-races.

He must be a man of substance to play his part becomingly, for there were expenses which he could not well avoid. He often bore the cost himself of the religious services of his own college, paying for the victims for the sacrifice. He subscribed toward the silver plate which was the customary offering, and in other ways lightened the burdens on the students. When the outer wall of their gymnasium fell into ruins, the Rector of the day rebuilt it at his own expense; and though he thankfully accepted from his pupils the complimentary present of his statue, yet he did not forget to pay for it himself.

Some, however, of the work of supervision devolved upon the Sophronistæ, or the proctors, who were charged specially with the moral guidance of the youths, and to whose constant watchfulness the orderly behavior often spoken of was largely due. The tutors, or instructors, were specialized, as we have seen, to definite work; each was told off to deal with a single set of muscles, or some physical aptitude or grace, and therefore they scarcely rose above the rank of trainers, or of fencing or dancing-masters. At first appointed by each rector only for a year, they gradually obtained a longer hold upon their places, till they gained a sort of vested right, and held their offices for life.

The Rector had his accounts at last to pass before official auditors appointed by the State. That done with credit, he might return to private life after one year of responsible routine ; but he was seldom allowed to lay down office without some mark of honor, if he had done his duty


faithfully, and not been too unpopular among his pupils. Some one in the general assembly was sure to propose a vote of thanks, couched in the most complimentary terms, to the rector and all the officials of the year. The motion was carried without fail, and embodied formally in a de

So flattering a proof of merit was not allowed to remain buried in the dusty archives. It was reproduced in more enduring form in stone, and posted, probably where all might read it, in the gymnasium of the college, whose walls were made to serve as a gazette of academic news. The custom was observed from year to year, till the marble slabs spread over a large area of masonry; and as in course of time, by the ravages of war, or the processes of slow decay, the buildings crumbled into ruins, the storied fragments were strewed upon the ground and covered over, till history lost sight of them for ages. But, gradually, one after another reappeared; and, as the ardor of antiquarian research revived at Athens in our own days, a lengthy series was at length pieced together and arranged, extending, though not of course in an unbroken order, from the Macedonian period to the third century of our era. We may gain a clearer insight into the social manners of the times, if we take the trouble to read over one of the decrees as a characteristic member of the series in question. The document is dated from the 8th of the month Boedromion; and the year, as indicated by the Archon's name, belongs probably to the beginning of the first century before our era.

Aphrodisius, the son of Aphrodisius the Azenian, moved:

That whereas the Ephebi of last year sacrificed duly at their matriculation in the Guildhall, by the sacred fire of the City, in the presence of their Rector and the Priests of the People and the Pontifts, according to the laws and decrees, and conducted the procession in honor of Artemis the Huntress, ... and took part in others of like kind, and ran in the customary torch-races, and escorted the statue of Pallas to Phalerum, and helped to bring it back again, and light it on its way in perfect order, and carried Dionysus also from his shrine into the theater in like fashion, and brought a bill worthy of the God at the Dionysiac festival, ... and took part in all due offerings to our Gods and our Benefactors, as the laws and the decrees ordain; and have been regular in their attendance all the year at the gymnasia, and punctually obeyed their Rector, thinking it of paramount importance to observe discipline, and to study diligently what the People has prescribed; whereas there has been no ground for complaint, but they have kept all the rules made by their Rector and their Tutors, and have attended without fail the lectures of Zenodotus in the Ptolemæum and the Ly. ceum, as also those of all the other Professors of Philosophy in the Lyceum and Academy; and have mounted guard in good order at the popular assemblies, and have gone out to meet our Roman friends and benefactors on their visits; ... and have given 70 drachmæ, as the law provides, to the proper functionaries to provide the goblet for the Mother of the Gods, and offered another also in the temple at Eleusis; and have marched out under arms to the Athenian frontiers, and made themselves acquainted with the country and the roads, ... and have gone out to Marathon and offered their garlands, and said prayers at the shrine of the heroes who died fighting for their country's freedom; ... and have gone on shipboard to the feast of Aiantæa, and held boat-races and processions there, and earned the praises of the Salaminians, and the present of a golden crown because of their good discipline and orderly behavior; and whereas they have lived in friendly harmony all the year without a jar, as their Rector wished, and have passed their Examinations in the Senate-house as the law


requires; and being full of honorable ambition and desire to help their Rector in his public spirited endeavors to promote the public good as well as their own credit, they have taken in hand one of the old catapults that was out of gear, and, repairing it at their own expense, have learned once more how to use the engine, the practice of which had been disused for years; and in all other mat. ters have conducted themselves with all propriety, and have provided all that was required for the religious services of their own gymnasia-to show the wish of the Senate and the People to honor them for their merits and obedience to the laws and to their Rector, in their first year of adult life, the Senate is agreed to instruct the Presidents of the next assembly following to lay before the People for approval the Resolution of the Senate to pass an honorary vote in praise of the Ephebi of last year, and to present them with a golden crown for their constant piety and discipline and public spirit, and to compliment their Tutors, their trainer Timon, and the fencing-master Satyrus, and the marksman Nicander, and the bowman Asclepiades, and Calchedon the instructor in the catapults, and the attendants, and to award a crown of leaves to each; and to have the decree engraved by the Secretary for the time being on two pillars of stone, to be placed one in the Market-place, and the second wherever may seem best.

Again, a few days afterward, in a regular assembly in the theater, one of the presidents put to the vote the following resolution of the Senate and the people :

Whereas, the people always has a hearty interest in the training and discipline of the Ephebi, hoping that the rising generation may grow up to be men able to take good care of their fatherland, and has passed laws to require them to gain a knowledge of the country, of the guard-posts and of the frontiers, and to train themselves as soldiers in the use of arms, thanks to which discipline the City has been decked with many glories and imposing trophies; and whereas on this account the People has always chosen a Rector of unblemished chạr. acter, and accordingly last year Dionysius, the son of Socrates, the Phylasian, had the care of the Ephebi intrusted to him by the People, and duly sacrificed with them at their matriculation, ... and has trained them worthily, keeping them constantly engaged at the gymnasia, and making them all efficient in their drill, and insisting on decorum, that they should not fail throughout the year in obedience to the Generals, the Tutors, and himself; and whereas he has watched over their habits of order and of self-control, taking them with him to the professors' lectures, and being present always at their courses of instruction, .... and whereas he has also roused their public spirit by teaching them to be good marksmen with the catapult, and accompanied them in their rounds to the guard posts and the frontiers ... and has arranged the boat-races in the processions at Munychia ... and also the foot-races in the gymnasia, and the escorts of honor for our Roman friends and allies ... and reviewed them on parade at the Theseia and Epitaphia ... and has been vigilant in all cases to maintain their pride, being constant in attendance on them through the year, and has watched over their studies, and ruled them with impartial justice, keeping them in sound health and friendly intercourse, treating them with a father's care-in return for all of which, the Ephebi bave presented him with a golden crown and a bronze statue, to show their sense of his character and loving care ; and whereas he has passed his accounts as the law requires, the Senate and the People, wishing to show due honor to such Rectors as serve with merit and impartiality, resolve to praise Dionysius, late Rector of the Ephebi of last year, and to present him with a golden crown, and have proclamation made thereof in the great festival of Dionysus, as also at the athletic contests of the Papa. thenaic and Eleusinian feasts.

In conclusion, we may briefly note:

1. The system of education thus described was under the control of the government throughout.

*The laws and the decrees' were constantly appealed to in the records, not as guaranteeing corporate status, or securing rights of property, but as organizing and defining all the essentials of the institution. They in. sisted that a religious influence should be exerted, prescribing even the ritual established by the State ; they claimed the right to interfere with the details, to correct and to reward the chief officials. It was a truly national system under government inspection, though largely supplemented by voluntary action.

2. It may surprise us that our information comes almost entirely from the inscriptions, and that ancient writers are all nearly silent on the subject. The later Athenian comedy, indeed, if that were left to us, would probably refer to it in illustration of the social manners of the times. But there was little to attract the literary circles in arrangements -80 mechanical and formal; there was too much of outward pageantry, and too little of real character evolved. The professorial teaching was a mere excrescence of the system. The Rectors passed so rapidly across the stage that none could stamp any marked impress of his genius on it; and originality must have been cramped by the straight-waistcoat of rigid forms.

3. Strangely enough, our information does not end even with all the complimentary phrases, of which a sample has been given in the foregoing decree. There is specified sometimes the exact number of the members of the college; and more or less lengthy fragments are still left of the muster-rolls, in which the proper names and the nationalities of each are stated. The native born and aliens are distinguished in the different lists: the varying proportions serve to mark the times when this special type of education rose and fell in popular esteem elsewhere. In the second century of our era, when more than one hundred strangers sometimes matriculated in the same year, only two or three Roman names occur, while the great towns of Asia Minor and the isles of the Ægean are constantly appearing. The Roman character was still too unimaginative and commonplace to prize the varied attractiveness of life at Athens. But the Syrian populations flocked to her, the men of AscaIon and Berytus above all, disguising partially their native names in a Greek dress. It is of special interest to note that at the very time when a new religious influence was spreading from the East, there is so much evidence of fusion between the Greek and the Semitic culture. In the - last the Jews played probably no important part; they abounded in all the marts of trade and crowded cities; and, as in the Middle Ages at the schools of Cordova and Bagdad, they may have served to some extent as dragomans between the East and the West. But only a small proportion of such foreign students entered as Ephebi, for the out-college system seemingly was most in favor, and of the multitudes who flocked to Athens, and staid there for long years, by far the most were unattached, .choosing their own course of reading and their private tutors, without any check of examinations or degrees. It is time to turn to the character and methods of their studies, and to deal with the larger and the most important sections of our subject.

« PreviousContinue »