Growing up Greek : the differing journeys through childhood in ancient Athens and Sparta

Robertson, Elizabeth Ann (2018-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Athens and Sparta were the two most prominent city-states during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, but their socio-political systems differed markedly. As a result of such radical differences it could be hypothesised that the childhoods and, in particular, the education and socialisation of children, would also differ. The aims of this thesis are: 1. to examine the extent and nature of the differences between the childhood experiences of each group of children from the two city-states, Athens and Sparta, in particular the type of education and socialisation system to which each was exposed; and 2. to discern to what extent and in what way the socio-political system of their respective state had an impact on their upbringing and their journey to adult citizen status. To meet this goal, this study consulted the works of ancient writers, the research of contemporary scholars, as well as archaeological and visual evidence when available. The scarcity of relevant sources, particularly with regard to Sparta, limited the scope of the research to the children of the elite class of citizens. It was also necessary to differentiate between the type of education and socialisation offered to boys and girls, as these differed significantly. The method used in this thesis was to construct a list of the attributes which were considered desirable in the character of both male and female ‘ideal’ citizens of the two states, based on the prevailing economic, social and political establishment of Athens and Sparta. The way in which the child acquired these necessary qualities was tracked from the time of birth and acceptance into the oikos, through the individual educational and socialisation system to which the child was subjected, until final conferral of citizenship. My research concludes that the type of educational systems in Athens and Sparta were indeed different from each other, in their structure, emphasis and in their goals. They also differed in their level of state ‘intervention’. Athens provided no state-sponsored system of education for boys and the responsibility for arranging a boy’s education rested with the father, while girls were adequately educated in domestic skills within the oikos. Spartan children, on the other hand –both boys and girls – grew up within a system of compulsory state-run education which concentrated heavily on physical training at the expense of literacy. The intervention of the Athenian city-state in the upbringing of her children was minimal, whereas the Spartan city-state dictated every aspect of her children’s life.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Athene en Sparta was die twee prominentste stadstate gedurende die sesde en vyfde eeue v.C., maar hul sosiopolitieke stelsels het opvallend van mekaar verskil. As gevolg van sodanige grondige verskille kon daar veronderstel word dat die kinderjare en, veral, die opvoeding en sosialisering van kinders, ook sou verskil. Die doelwitte van hierdie tesis is 1. om die omvang en aard van die verskille tussen die kinderjare-ervarings van elke kindergroep van die twee stadstate, Athene en Sparta, te ondersoek, in die besonder die soort opvoedkundige en sosialiseringstelsel waaraan elkeen blootgestel is; en 2. om te bepaal in watter mate en op watter manier die sosiopolitieke stelsel van hul besondere staat ’n impak op hul opvoeding en hul reis na volwasse burgerstatus gehad het. Om hierdie doelwit te bereik, het dié studie die werke van antieke skrywers, die navorsing van kontemporêre vakkundiges asook die beskikbare argeologiese en visuele bewyse geraadpleeg. Die skaarsheid van tersaaklike bronne, veral ten opsigte van Sparta, het die bestek van die navorsing tot die kinders van die burgers se eliteklas beperk. Dit was ook nodig om onderskeid tussen die soort opvoeding en sosialisering wat aan seuns en dogters gebied is, te tref, aangesien dit aansienlik van mekaar verskil het. Die metode wat in hierdie tesis gebruik is, was om ’n lys eienskappe saam te stel wat as wenslik in die karakter van beide manlike en vroulike ‘ideale’ burgers in die twee state beskou is. Dit is op Athene en Sparta se heersende ekonomiese, sosiale en politieke bestel gebaseer. Die manier waarop ’n kind hierdie vereiste eienskappe verwerf het, is vanaf geboorte tot by aanneming in die oikos nagespeur, deur die individuele opvoedkundige en sosialiseringstelsel waaraan die kind onderwerp is, tot die uiteindelike toekenning van burgerskap. My navorsing kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat die soort opvoedkundige stelsels in Athene en Sparta inderdaad van mekaar verskil het, in hul struktuur, klem en in hul doelwitte. Hulle het ook in hul vlak van ‘staatsinmenging’ verskil. Athene het nie ’n staatsondersteunde opvoedkundige stelsel vir seuns verskaf nie en dit was die vader se verantwoordelikheid om ’n seun se opvoeding te reël, terwyl dogters voldoende in huishoudelike vaardighede binne die oikos opgevoed is. Daarteenoor het Spartaanse kinders – beide seuns en dogters – binne ’n verpligte, staatsbeheerde opvoedingstelsel grootgeword wat swaar op liggaamlike opvoeding ten koste van geletterdheid gekonsentreer het. Die inmenging van die Atheense stadstaat in die opvoeding van haar kinders was minimaal, terwyl die Spartaanse stadstaat elke aspek van haar kinders se lewens voorgeskryf het.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103312
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