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p847 Paedagogus

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p847 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

PAEDAGOGUS (παιδαγωγός), a tutor. The office of tutor in a Grecian family of rank and opulence (Plato, De Repub. I p87, ed. Bekker, de Leg. VII pp41, 42) was assigned to one of the most trustworthy of the slaves. The sons of his master were committed to his care on attaining their sixth or seventh year, their previous education having been conducted by females. They remained with the tutor (magister) until they attained the age of puberty (Ter. Andr. I.1.24). His duty was rather to guard them from evil, both physical and moral, than to communicate instruction, to cultivate their minds, or to impart accomplishments. He went with them to and from the school or the Gymnasium (Plato, Lysis, p118); he accompanied them out of doors on all occasions; he was responsible for their personal safety, and for their avoidance of bad company (Bato, ap. Athen. VII p279). The formation of their morals by direct superintendence belonged to the παιδονόμοι as public officers, and their instruction in the various branches of learning, i.e. in grammar, music, and gymnastics, to the διδάσκαλοι or praeceptores, whom Plato (ll.cc.), Xenophon (de Lac. Rep. II.1, III.2), Plutarch (de Lib. Ed. 7), and Quintilian (Inst. Or. I.1.8, 9) expressly distinguish from the paedagogi. These latter even carried the books and instruments which were requisite for their young masters in studying under the sophists and professors.

This account of the office is sufficient to explain why the παιδαγωγός so often appears on the Greek stage, both in tragedy, as in the Medea, Phoenissae, and Ion of Euripides, and in comedy, as in the Bacchides of Plautus. The condition of slavery accounts for the circumstance, that the tutor was often a Thracian (Plato, Alcib. I p341, ed. Bekker), an Asiatic, as is indicated by such names as Lydus (Plaut. l.c.), and sometimes an eunuch (Herod. VIII.75; Corn. Nep. Themist. IV.3; Polyaen. I.30 § 3). Hence also we see why these persons spoke Greek with a foreign accent (ὑποβαρβαρίζοντες, Plato, Lysis, p145, ed. Bekker). On rare occasions, the tutor was admitted to the presence of the daughters, as when the slave, sustaining this office in the royal palace at Thebes, accompanies Antigone while she surveys the besieging army from the tower (Eurip. Phoen. 87‑210).

Among the Romans the attendance of the tutor on girls as well as boys was much more frequent, as they were not confined at home according to the Grecian custom (Val. Max. VI.1 § 3). As luxury advanced under the emperors, it was strikingly manifested in the dress and training of the beautiful young slaves who were destined to become paedagogi, or, as they were also termed, paedagogia and pueri paedagogiani (Plin. H. N. XXXIII.12 s54; Sen. Epist. 124, De Vita beata, 17; Tertull. Apol. 13). Augustus assigned to them a separate place, near his own, at the public spectacles (Sueton. Aug. 44). Nero gave offence by causing free boys to be brought up in the delicate habits of paedagogi (Sueton. Ner. 28). After this period numbers of them were attached to the imperial family for the sake of state and ornament, and not only is the modern word page a corruption of the ancient appellation, but it aptly expresses the nature of the service which the paedagogia at this later era afforded.

In palaces and other great houses the pages slept and lived in a separate apartment, which was also called paedagogium (Plin. Epist. VII.27).

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Page updated: 30 Sep 12