Ancient Greek Education: Athenians

When it comes to education within the ancient Greek civilization, there are many differences to take note of when comparing the way Athenians or Spartans learn. All of the city-states throughout Greece went about teaching their residents.


Sparta encouraged their citizens to be tough and display a certain level of strength. This quality that the Spartans possessed was admired by many, especially by the Athenians, who also took interest in the way that the Spartans conducted themselves in times of war. Athenians used education to create citizens that were well versed in the arts, as well as had a deep understanding for peace, as well as for war. When school was in session, there were to girls to tug at their hair because they did not attend school. Instead, they were taught how to read and write in the comforts of their own home. Their schoolhouse was often the courtyard of their home.


As for the boys, they were also taught at home until they turned six or seven. The task of teaching the young lads went to their mother or by a male slave of the household. From the ages of six to 14, the boys went on to attend a primary school. This was located somewhere within the neighborhood. Some boys were sent away to a private school. The price of books during this time was quite high, as they were also quite rare at this time. These meant that a lot of the lessons were read aloud rather than having the students follow along. The students were then expected to memorize everything that was taught to them. The educational tools that were used to help with studies included rulers, as well as tablets for writing.


Those who attended primary school were taught two main subjects. The first included the words and works of Homer, who was quite popular during this time. He was a famous Greek, who wrote epic poems. The second subject that was taught to all students included the teaching of playing the lyre, which was a common musical instrument during these times. Whatever else was taught in the classroom was up to the professor. At this time, men assumed the role of teacher and women were not seen in this field. Some of the additional teachings that an ancient Greek may learn in school were the art of public speaking, drama, government, art, as well as learning how to play the flute, which was also a favored instrument during ancient Greek times.


After primary school, the boys would go onto a higher level of education, which would last for a total of four years. This was not the end of their education. When the students turned 18, they were sent to a military school. They would continue to be taught here for about two years. Graduation from all studies came when the students reached the age of 20. When it comes to schooling, one of the differences between the Athenians and the Spartans was that their girls were allowed to attend school, which will be discussed in another article.