The first seven years of a Greek boy's life are spent
with his nurses and his mother. Up to that time his father takes only
unofficial interest in his welfare. Once past the first perilous "five
days," an Athenian baby has no grounds to complain of his treatment.
Great pains are taken to keep him warm and well nourished. A wealthy
family will go to some trouble to get him a skilful nurse, those from
Sparta being in special demand, as knowing the best how to rear healthy
infants. He has all manner of toys, and
Aristotle the philosopher
commends their frequent donation; otherwise, he says, children will be
always "breaking things in the house." Babies have rattles. As they grow
older they have dolls of painted clay or wax, sometimes with movable
hands and feet, and also toy dishes, tables, wagons, and animals. Lively
boys have whipping toys, balls, hoops, and swings. There is no lack of
pet dogs, nor of all sorts of games on the blind man's bluff and "tag"
Athenian children are, as a class, very active and noisy. Plato speaks
feelingly of their perpetual "roaring." As they grow larger, they begin
to escape more and more from the narrow quarters of the courts of the
house, and play in the streets.