Ancient civilization strongly influenced the adjacent territories of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Even in the 19th century, it inspired scientists, philosophers and artists. She was considered mature and progressive. But the same cannot be said about raising children. She was strange to say the least.
The main centers of ancient Greece were Sparta and Athens. In these small city-states, different ways of looking at offspring and their upbringing developed. Spartans were warriors, disciplined and always ready to die for their country. On the other hand, the Athenians relied on education. They were not soldiers, but philosophers, politicians, writers, musicians and sculptors.
Childhood in Ancient Greece
Even in the advanced ancient world, giving birth meant risk and was accompanied by a number of rituals. Immediately after the birth of the child, a cleansing bath was prepared. In Sparta, extra wine was added to it. They believed that the weak baby could not bear his touch. On the fifth day, a ceremony called the amphidromia took place. The newborn was carried around the hearth to be protected by the goddess Hestia. On that day, the father could decide whether to raise the child or put it away. Either it was given to slave traders, pimps, or it was killed. In Sparta, each branch was decided by the state. If it was weak, it was dumped in the Taygety Mountains.
Baptisms took place on the tenth day after birth. Relatives were invited to the feast and a name was chosen. Boys were most often named after their paternal grandfather and girls after their grandmother. Until the child was seven years old, he was cared for by his mother or nanny. After that, his education was taken over by officials or teachers.
The aim of Spartan education was to develop in boys prowess in battle and the ability to control the masses of the subjugated population. The boys were sent to groups where they had to obey unconditionally. Any disobedience was punished by beating. They wore a rough piece of clothing and walked barefoot. They ran, jumped, learned to wrestle, throw the javelin and discus. At the same time, they also had to be able to read, write, play a musical instrument and dance.
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From the age of 12, education became even tougher. The diet was so simple that anyone who didn’t steal something extra was starving. Those who could not be caught were praised. Whoever was caught was punished. At the age of fifteen, the boys hardened themselves and slept only on bare reeds. Slave hunts were held to teach them how to kill. From the age of 18 to 20, systematic military training already took place.
Even the girls were not spared. From the age of seven, they attended a school where they learned to wrestle. The Spartans believed that strong mothers produced strong children. Women were thus allowed to exercise and received the same portions of food as their male counterparts. At around the age of 20, they had to take a citizenship test. If they met the given conditions, they were assigned a husband.
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After the wedding night, before which they had to cut their hair and dress in men’s clothes, their husbands returned to the barracks. They met only for the purpose of procreating children. Since Spartan women lived alone most of the time, they could move about the city with impunity and mind their own business.
Education in Athens
In Athens, raising children looked completely different. While the boys went to school at the age of seven, where they were educated not only in pentathlon, but mainly to prepare for the performance of functions in state offices, the girls stayed at home. They learned housekeeping, dancing, music and singing.
Traditionally, they married at the age of fourteen or fifteen and usually married a man around 30 years old, who was chosen by their father. Once they celebrated their wedding, they rarely went out in public. Their duty was to live in seclusion and become pregnant. If they failed, they were considered cursed.
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