Изображения страниц

numbers for the purpose of acquiring or completing an education. The schools of philosophy became so famous that their disciples constituted little commonwealths. Theophrastus had 2000 hearers, and in the days of Cicero there were more strangers at Athens than citizens. In the discipline of the intellectual powers, the Greeks made use of no other language than their own.* Their national pride led them (and not without some reason,) to regard other nations when compared with themselves, as barbarians, and the languages of such nations, if learned at all, were learned not as a means of education, but for practical purposes of life. Nor were the several branches of natural history and natural philosophy in' this point of view, of much service. For these sciences were yet in too rude a state to be employed for purposes of discipline.

of the studies which are in use among the most polished nations of modern times as means of discipline, mathematics, which is one of the most important, was cultivated for the same purpose by the Greeks. The excellence of mathematical pursuits as a discipline for the mind was well understood by that intellectual people, and in particular this study was esteemed as a highly useful, if not indispensable preparation for philosophy. That this was the view at least of Plato, is evident from the famous inscription over the door of the Academy where his philosophical lectures were delivered, no one enter who is ignorant of Geometry.”+ It is no small proof of acuteness and versatility of genius in the Greeks, that they not only saw the relation beiween two sciences in many respects so unlike as Mathematics and Metaphysics, but reached the highest eminence in each, and made ihemselves in both for more than two thousand years the instructors of the human race. While on the one hand the philosophical speculations of Plato and Aristotle, after having moulded the mind of nations, still command the attention of the profoundest thinkers, on the other, the Geometry of Euclid remains a text book in the schools.

Among the means of mental discipline, employed by the

" Let

* Anacharsis II: 281.

† Ojdens dyewuéTENTOS Eidítw. By some this has been attributed to Xenocrates.

Greeks, must be reckoned Music. The relation which mu sic bore to education among the ancients was peculiar, and the estimation in which the art was held, may be seen in the different senses in which the word was used, and in the prominence which was given to it in education. According to Plato, education consists of two branches, Music and Gymnastics—music for the mind and gymnastics for the body. In music is included the whole intellectual and moral development, while the cultivation of the physical powers belongs to gymnastics. This use of the word music, however foreign from our notions of the meaning of terms, is not confined to Plato.*

One reason why music was so much cultivated was that eloquence is dependent on language, and language with the Greeks had important relations to music. And if in oratory music was supposed to be useful, in poetry it was regarded as indispensable. Poetry without music, says Plato, is like a face once beautiful, which has lost the bloom of youth. There is no doubt that music, in the strict sense of the word was in far more extensive use in education among the ancients than at the present day. “Music," they said, “ is a good leader in war, a good companion in civic duties, and a good means of education.” Instruction in music was universal in Greece ; or, if it was wanting in any region, it was only in some inland state, and among the roughest tribes. It was not, however, skill in the use of either the native stringed instruments of Greece or of the Asiatic wind instruments, that was chiefly aimed at in this instruction by the Greeks. They believed that music is capable of producing a strong moral impression, and of becoming a powerful instrument in the formation of character. “There is music," they said, " in the earth, and music in the stars, and why should there not be music in the soul of man?" The intellectual part of the Spartan education consisted almost entirely of music without general instruction in reading and writing, and although the Athenian system embraced a much wider range of objects,

* In Crito and other portions of his writings, Plato speaks of Education as comprising two great classes of objects of instruction—music and gymnastics. Elsewhere (as in Clitophon) he makes three, adding sa ypájpara.

yet music was regarded as an indispensable element in the education of every citizen.* Even reading as it was taught in the schools was a musical exercise, since music was required to distinguish the long and short syllables, and to regulate the rise and fall of the voice and the emissions of breath, by certain rules which had their origin in the musical feeling of the Greeks. The opinion of the Greeks respecting the moral influence of music is seen in the strictness of the laws, in which their early legislators prohibited or allowed the use of certain instruments, and in the vigilance with which they guarded against innovations in a science of so much importance. The enervating melodies of Asiatic Ionia, however, at length made their way across the Ægean and mingled with the simple harmony of Greece. But although these innovations, after having been at first hissed from the stage even at Athens, succeeded at last in establishing themselves there, they met with no quarter at Lacedæmon. “ Strike froin your lyre four of its eleven strings," was the decree of the kings and ephori against Timotheus the Sonian," and corrupt not the youth of Sparta with your soft, effeminate airs." Yet the same warlike people knew how to employ softer measures when such were the most useful. Laying aside the rougher instruments, they commanded their troops to march against the enemy to the sound of flutes, because the fiery courage of the Spartan youth, always urging them beyond the bounds of prudence, needed not the spirit-stirring stimulus of the trumpet and the horn. "The hymns of the first poets," says the Abbe Barthelemi, “inspired piety, their poeins the thirst of glory, their elegies patience and firmness under misfortune. Examples as well as precepts were easily imprinted on the memory by simple airs of a noble and expressive character ; and the youth, carly accustomed to repeat them, imbibed with pleasure the love of every duty, and ihe true idea of real excellence." +

We turn to another characteristic of the Grecian education

* Der Glaube an die Allgewalt der Musik war in Athen eben so gross, wie in Sparta, und daher wurde auch hier Musikalische Bildung als nothwendig von jedem Freien gefordert. --Cramers Geschichte Erziehung, 1 : 275.

† Anacharsis, 11 : 127.

-its aim at the union of the beautiful and good. If there is any one feature of the Grecian character which is more strongly marked than all the others, it is the love of the beautiful. The idea of beauty pervaded the national mind, and spread itself through every portion of society. It guided every thought and motion, and gave form and color to every production. The Graces reigned in Greece with undisputed sway, and Jupiter himself inspired his worshippers, not so much with fear by the thunder which he bore, as with love and admiration by the mingled beauty and grandeur of his form, and the serene and awful majesty that sat upon his brow. This characteristic of the Greeks developed itself in a thousand ways, but in none more strikingly than in their conceptions of the gods. In the ideas of their divinities, which were embodied and expressed by painting and sculpture, is grouped together a collection of beauties, physical, intellectual, and moral, which the modern world has labored in vain to equal. In the mythology of the Greeks, in the fables which obtained currency in the heroic age, and even in their early history, we see the most conclusive proofs that the love of beauty was a national characteristic. That a beautiful body is the external form in which a beautiful and noble spirit dwells, was the common belief of the Greeks. On the other hand, between deformity and vice there is, it seemed to them, a natural connection. The bad qualities of Thersites, Homer clothes with a misshapen and ugly body. The fascinations of beauty originated ihe Trojan war; the goddesses strove for the prize of beauty ; if the gods descended from heaven to visit men, it was beauty that brought them down ; and when mortals were seized and carried to Olympus, beauty was the quality which secured them this preëminence. If Jupiter in the counsels of the gods, was proud, haughty, and inexorable, the charms of beauty had power to soften his severity, and render him placable and mild. It was not the virtuous only, but the beantiful that were admitted to the favor of the gods. If heaven was in commotion and Olympus was shaken to its centre, it was some beauty either present or absent that produced the tumuli.

The Orientals desired children, the Greeks wished not for children simply, but for beautiful children. The barbarons custom of exposing infants was intimately connected with this love of beauty. When the child at five days old was



presented to his father, so completely did the love of beauty triumph over natural affection, that a personal deformity subjected the little unfortunate to a cruel death. The ancient philosophers taught, that goodness and beauty, if not absolutely identical, are in their nature inseparable.

Whatever may have been the origin of this love of beauty in the Greek, their system of education was fitted to foster it, and so far as the education was extended, to make it universal. Homer was the text-book in all the schools, and the absence of the Iliad was considered as so unpardonable, that Alcibiades once gave a school-master who had no Homer, a box on the ear. Other poets also were studied, but Homer moulded the mind of the nation. At Athens the body of the people from their infancy were familiar with his poems, and many in old age could repeat the whole Iliad. If we consider what Homer in the Iliad is ; if we call to mind the dignity of his subject, the harmony of his numbers, the nobleness of his sentiments, the beauty of his descriptions, and the inexpressible fire of genius that pervades the whole and enables him to clothe the immortal gods with human forms and make them mingle in all the affairs of men ; we shall see how admirably fitted as an instrument of education was the study of his works to produce in the minds of the susceptible and imaginative Greeks a love of the beautiful. Various other modes were adopted in their education to cultivate the feeling for the beautiful. Pericles proclaimed, that while Athens opened an asylum to the unfortunate of all nations, his countrymen should love the beautiful and true. Had the Greeks possessed a means of forming moral character as efficient as the instrumentalities which concurred in cherishing the feeling for the beautiful, the result would have no doubt approached more really to the realization of that charming theory which is indicated by the term hóxăyabia. Their system aimed at the beautiful and good, but unhappily produced only the beautiful without the good.

[ocr errors]

* The relation to each other of the ideas of beauty and goodness has been developed with much originality of thought and felicity of expression, in two lectures on “ The Connexion between Taste and Morals,” by President Hopkins of Williams College

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »