Tag Archives: hellenization

Rome-schooling

Livius and students.

With all these scrolls and codex books there must’ve been a fair amount of people who could read and write back in the latter days of the Roman Empire. It’s hard to know exactly because they didn’t keep statistics like that. At least I can’t find any. Based on who could afford to send their kids to school, maybe a third of the population was literate? Boys, mostly, learned to read and write—but girls learned, too. You can find the occasional fresco or statue of a girl reading. There weren’t government schools like we have today. Up until the 3rd century bc kids were home-schooled by their dad, the paterfamilias. As I mentioned earlier, the Romans sure did love Greek arts and literature. Once they saw Greek education, they glommed onto that, too.

The Roman Republic, and then Empire, was all business. They were set up as an organized military that also farmed. No time for frivolities. At least at first, Rome didn’t have arts or literature of her own. She imported ‘em from other cultures—mostly Greece. One Roman dad bought himself a Greek slave, Livius Andronicus, to tutor his kids. Livius likely introduced a system of teaching that resembled the Trivium (3 parts): Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. At the Grammar stage students learn subjects that are memorized, like the rules of reading & writing. At the Logic stage they learn how to think and understand. At the Rhetoric stage they learn how to persuade other people using logic and speaking skills.

Livius was wildly successful at teaching and so won his freedom. He opened his own school after that and is known for translations of Greek works into Latin as well as his original plays. Livius is thought to be the first to write literature in Latin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_ancient_Rome
https://ihomeschoolnetwork.com/classical-education-trivium/
https://veritaspress.com/the-trivium
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trivium
I enthusiastically recommend recorded lectures offered by The Great Courses, but goodness, they need a proofreader for their newsletter. It’s ‘Plato’ not ‘Pluto.’ https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/the-education-system-in-ancient-greece/
https://greece.mrdonn.org/education.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livius_Andronicus
Here is a tiny chunk of what kids had to learn: 30 conjugations of the word ‘this’—
https://www.latintutorial.com/videos/hic-haec-hoc

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Greece’s savage conqueror

“Conquered Greece took captive her savage conqueror and brought her arts into rustic Latium” —Horace, that old smartypants

Don’t forget! We’re still looking for dialogue for these two Roman characters admiring a Greek vase. Deadline is midnight Thursday, February 25! https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2021/02/18/we-need-a-gag-writer/

Greek culture—and the Greek alphabet—flourished and got spread around the Mediterranean world by Alexander the Great, through his program of Hellenization. We talked about this a few posts back when I was yapping about the Rosetta stone. Eventually Alexander’s empire got taken over by the Roman Empire.



The Romans were crazy about Greek culture. They loved the architecture, the statues, the literature, the theater, their weird habit of painting on wet plaster—and the alphabet. They liked the alphabet so much they adopted it as their own. The Romans changed a few of the Greek letters. They didn’t have J, K, U and W. But the Latin alphabet is pretty much the one we use today here in good old Western Civilization.

https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-some-ways-romans-adopted-greek-culture-436508
https://www.thoughtco.com/roman-culture-117887
https://diasporatravelgreece.com/how-did-greek-culture-influence-the-development-of-roman-civilization/
http://www.antiquitatem.com/en/graecia-capta-greek-culture-quignard/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Alexander whups the Persians

Alexander whupping the Persians

Around two hundred years after King Cambyses II took over Egypt, north of the Mediterranean Sea a guy named Alexander the Great was busy building his own empire. Alexander was a big fan of Greece and Greek culture so of course he wanted to spread it around.

In 331 bc Alexander beat the Persians, conquered Egypt and founded a city on the Nile delta—which he cleverly named Alexandria. Alexandria became a center of Greek culture, the home of the ancient world’s biggest library and the go-to spot for top scholars (you long-time loyal readers remember those big thinkers from The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space). Alexander insisted that Greek culture be spread throughout his empire. Everybody had to learn to speak Greek. All official letters were written in Greek. Every diner had to serve gyros and baklava and coffee in those paper coffee cups that have Greek designs printed on them.

Hellenization

Alexander went around conquering everything and eventually ruled the biggest empire the world had ever seen, bigger than the Persian Empire even. When he died, his empire got divided up between his generals. General Ptolemy got Egypt.

https://www.ducksters.com/history/ancient_egypt/late_period_and_persian_rule.php
https://www.ageofempires.com/history/greek-culture/
https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/alexander-the-great
http://peace.saumag.edu/faculty/kardas/Courses/HP/Lectures/alexanderhellenization.html
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ptolemy-I-Soter
https://untappedcities.com/2017/06/21/nyc-fun-facts-the-story-behind-the-famous-greek-coffee-cups/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.