The family unit is the nucleus of human society. It provides a vital setting for the development of praiseworthy qualities and capacities. A fundamental role of the family is to raise children who can assume the role of the family in the moral education of children for both their own spiritual growth and their participation in the advancement of civilization. 17th century music composers, see Roman School.
For 20th century art movement, see Scuola Romana. Education in ancient Rome progressed from an informal, familial system of education in the early Republic to a tuition-based system during the late Republic and the Empire. Roman system were Greek slaves or freedmen. At the height of the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire, the Roman educational system gradually found its final form. Both boys and girls were educated, though not necessarily together. In a system much like the one that predominates in the modern world, the Roman education system that developed arranged schools in tiers. Prior to the 3rd century BC.
It was the father’s duty to educate his children and should he be unable to fulfill this duty, the task was assumed by other family members. Greek captive from Tarentum named Livius Andronicus was sold as a slave and employed as a tutor for his master’s children. As Rome grew in size and in power, following the Punic Wars, the importance of the family as the central unit within Roman society began to deteriorate, and with this decline, the old Roman system of education carried out by the paterfamilias deteriorated as well. The situation of the Greeks was ideal for the foundation of literary education as they were the possessors of the great works of Homer, Hesiod and the Lyric poets of Archaic Greece. The absence of a literary method of education from Roman life was due to the fact that Rome was bereft of any national literature. While the Romans adopted many aspects of Greek education, two areas in particular were viewed as trifle: music and athletics.
Music to the Greeks was fundamental to their educational system and tied directly to the Greek paideia. Mousike encompassed all those areas supervised by the Muses, comparable to today’s liberal arts. Athletics, to the Greeks, was the means to obtaining a healthy and beautiful body, which was an end in and of itself and further promoted their love of competition. The Romans, though, did not share this stance either, believing that athletics was only the means to maintaining good soldiers. This illustrates one of the central differences between the two cultures and their view on education: that to the Greeks beauty or an activity could be an end in itself, and the practice of that activity was beneficial accordingly.
The Romans, on the other hand, tended to be more practically minded when it came to what they taught their children. To them, it would appear, an area of study was good only as far as it served a better purpose or end determined outside of itself. At the foundation of ancient Greek education was an effective system of formal education, but in contrast, the Romans lacked such a system until the 3rd century BC. Instead, at the foundation of ancient Roman education was, above all else, the home and family, from which children derived their so-called “moral education”. Whereas Greek boys primarily received their education from the community, a Roman child’s first and most important educators were almost always his or her parents. Parents taught their children the skills necessary for living in the early republic, which included agricultural, domestic and military skills as well as the moral and civil responsibilities that would be expected from them as citizens.
Men like Cato the Elder adhered to this Roman tradition and took their roles as teachers very seriously. He taught his son not only to hurl a javelin, to fight in armor, and to ride a horse, but also to box, to endure both heat and cold, and to swim well”. Job training was also emphasized, and boys gained valuable experience through apprenticeships. Mothers, though, cannot be overlooked for their roles as moral educators and character builders of their children.
Cornelia Africana, the mother of the Gracchi, is even credited as a major cause of her sons’ renowned eloquence. Perhaps the most important role of the parents in their children’s education was to instill in them a respect for tradition and a firm comprehension of pietas, or devotion to duty. For a boy, this meant devotion to the state, and for a girl, devotion to her husband and family. As the Roman Republic transitioned into a more formal education beyond the 3 R’s, parents began to hire teachers for this level of advanced academic training. Rome as a republic or an empire never formally instituted a state-sponsored form of elementary education.
In no stage of its history did Rome ever legally require its people to be educated on any level. It was typical for Roman children of wealthy families to receive their early education from private tutors. However, it was common for children of more humble means to be instructed in a primary school, traditionally known as a ludus litterarius. An instructor in such a school was often known as a litterator or litteratus, which was seen as a more respectable title. There was nothing stopping a litterator from setting up his own school, aside from his meager wages. Typically, elementary education in the Roman world focused on the requirements of everyday life, reading, and writing.
The students would progress up from reading and writing letters, to syllables, to word lists, eventually memorizing and dictating texts. The majority of the texts used in early Roman education were literature, predominantly poetry. Using a competitive educational system, Romans developed a form of social control that allowed elites to maintain class stability. This, along with the obvious monetary expenses, prevented the majority of Roman students from advancing to higher levels of education. At between nine and twelve years of age, boys from affluent families would leave their ‘litterator’ behind and take up study with a grammaticus, who honed his students’ writing and speaking skills, versed them in the art of poetic analysis and taught them Greek if they did not yet know it. The curriculum was thoroughly bilingual, as students were expected to both read and speak in Greek as well as in Latin.