THE IDEAL OF INTELLECTUAL BEAUTY

EARLY Greek education consisted of reading and writing and a little arithmetic. Boys learnt long passages of Homer by heart, not only for the literature, but for the religious and moral teaching. Skill in playing the flute and the harp was more than a social accomplishment, since it was believed that musical rhythms had a great effect on character and could make the soul harmonious and orderly. Athletics, chiefly wrestling and running and field events, were widely practised. Schools were private ventures, and teachers were despised. The state intervened only when the young men, at the age of eighteen, were compelled to do garrison service on the frontier for two years. Although there was so little formal education, the citizen could easily obtain a wide and deep culture. In the temples he could see inspiring sculpture and architecture and, in the market-place, if he were a contemporary of Socrates, he could listen to the great teacher cross-examining some unwary victim who thought that he had knowledge which in fact he had not. The dramatic festivals, the law courts and the assembly all contributed to this education. In the evenings, dicing and drinking bouts and contests of wit provided diversion. The Athenian despised a man who was not adept in the give-and-take of conversation. In the fifth century B.C., a class of teachers arose called Sophists (professors of wisdom) who taught grammar, mathematics, and astronomy. The most popular studies of all, however, were social virtue and the eloquence which could make a man successful in the assembly and the law courts. Such a training often subordinated plain honesty to the plausibility which could " make the worse appear the better reason." Some of the Sophists did a great service by insisting on the part played by education in developing character, but there were others who scoffed at traditional morality as the device of the weak to keep down the strong.