1902 Encyclopedia > Education > Education in Ancient Greece

(Part 2)

Education in Ancient Greece

The Greeks were the first to develop a science of education distinct from ecclesiastical training. They divided their subjects of study into music and gymnas-tics, the one comprising all mental, the other all physical training. Music was at first little more than the study of the art of expression. But the range of intellectual educa-tion which had been developed by distinguished musical teachers was further widened by the Sophists, until it received a new stimulus and direction from the work of Socrates. Who can forget the picture left us by Plato of the Athenian palaestra, in which Socrates was sure to find his most ready listeners and his most ardent disciples? In the intervals of running, wrestling, or the bath, the young Phaedrus or Theaetetus discoursed with the philosophers who had come to watch them on the good, the beautiful, and the true. The lowest efforts of their teachers were to fit them to maintain any view they might adopt with acuteness, elegance, readiness, and good taste. Their highest efforts were to stimulate a craving for the knowledge of the unknowable, to rouse a dissatisfaction with received opinions, and to excite a curiosity which grew stronger with the revelation of each successive mystery. Plato is the author of the first systematic treatise on education. He deals with the subject in his earlier dialogues, he enters into it with great fulness of detail in the Republic, and it occu-pies an important position in the Laws. The views thus expressed differ considerably in particulars, and it is there-fore difficult to give concisely the precepts drawn up by him for our obedience. But the same spirit underlies his whole teaching. He never forgets that the beautiful is undistinguishable from the true, and that the mind is best fitted to solve difficult problems which has been trained by the enthusiastic contemplation of art. Plato proposes to intrust education to the state. He lays great stress on the influence of race and blood. Strong and worthy children are likely to spring from strong and worthy parents. Music and gymnastics are to develop the emotions of young men during their earliest years,—the one to strengthen their character for the contest of life, the other to excite in them varying feelings of resentment or tenderness. Reverence, the ornament of youth, is to be called forth by well-chosen fictions; a long and rigid training in science is to precede discussion on more important subjects. At length the goal is reached, and the ripest wisdom is ready to be applied to the most important practice.

Read the rest of this article:
Education - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries