In general, the children were not pampered too much: they bathed in cold water, forced to go out lightly dressed, and even on the coldest days, so that they became strong and tempered. However, they were not taught to work at all. After all, the parents had slaves who were supposed to serve both adults and children in everything, and the baby from an early age got used to looking at work with contempt, believing that it was indecent to work for him, the son of a free citizen. From childhood, they taught him that a slave should work, and his task is to develop his mind and strengthen his body in order to be a worthy member of the People’s Assembly, statesman, brave warrior, commander.
Girls were not sent to school. After all, Athenian women did not participate in elections, in the National Assembly, or in courts. All that was required of them was to be humble, obedient wives and worthy mistresses. The less often they appeared in public, the more proud their father and husband became. And for such a life, it was enough to teach them at home to weave wool, bake bread and look after the slaves.
The school the boys attended was run by a teacher who was paid by the parents to teach the children. The Athenians, like all slaveholders, despised anyone who worked for pay, and therefore teachers were not highly respected in society. When there was no news about a person for a long time, acquaintances said: he, probably, either died, or became a teacher. By this they wanted to say that the missing person leads a too miserable life to inform his friends about himself.
Poor Athenians could not support their sons at school for nine years, as wealthy parents did. The poor only had to learn literacy, and then they returned home to learn from their fathers how to cultivate the field, care for livestock, or adopted their craft. Boys from wealthy families studied in music schools until the age of 16.
When young Athenians reached the age of 18, they graduated from schools and gymnasiums and went to military service, becoming ephebes. Efeb is a young man. From now on, the boy was considered an adult. Now his name was included in the lists from his native district – deme. It was an important and solemn ceremony, because the person included in the lists became a full citizen, could participate in the People’s Assembly, manage his property and, when he reached a certain age, take any public office.
The Ephebes were to spend two years in the Athenian fortresses – Munychia and Akte, studying military affairs and carrying out garrison service. In their free time, they visited theaters and palestras, private houses and public parties, where philosophers, scientists and orators held talks and lectured those wishing to. Especially many listeners were gathered by the teachers of wisdom – the sophists. Young people liked the bold thoughts that they preached, their skill speaks eloquently and convincingly.
After studying for some time with some famous sophist, the wealthy young Athenian believed that his education was completed.