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Page 8

The Training of Athenian Girls

 

    Until about seven years old brothers and sisters grow up in the Gynæconitis together. Then the boys are sent to school. The girls will continue about the house until the time of their marriage. It is only in the rarest of cases that the parents feel it needful to hire any kind of tutor for them. What the average girl knows is simply what her mother can teach her. Perhaps a certain number of Athenian women (of good family, too) are downright illiterate; but this is not very often the case. A normal girl will learn to read and write, with her mother for school mistress.[6] Very probably she will be taught to dance, and sometimes to play on some instrument, although this last is not quite a proper accomplishment for young women of good family. Hardly any one dreams of giving a woman any systematic intellectual training.[7] Much more important it is that she should know how to weave, spin, embroider, dominate the cook, and superintend the details of a dinner party. She will have hardly time to learn these matters thoroughly before she is "given a husband," and her childhood days are forever over.[8]

    Meantime her brother has been started upon a course of education which, both in what it contains and in what it omits, is one of the most interesting and significant features of Athenian life.

 

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