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Page 5

Life and Games of Young Children

 

    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" order.[4] 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.

 

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