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Unformatted text preview: On-Line Lecture 18: Social Life in the Early EmpireThis lecture surveys a number of aspects of social life in the early Empire, roughly the first century CE. Some of the features characteristic of this time period continue on into the middle and late Empire, but others will change over time.I. Education and Schools (Shelton 134-139, 141-157, 160)In antiquity, as today, there were different kinds of education: some Romans would have learned a trade, while others would pursue a course of studies in the liberal arts. Remember that upper-class Romans tended to look down on trade and tradesmen, but they were still dependent on their services, and for these jobs the usual form of education was to learn by apprenticeship. Upper-class boys, on the other hand, while young were educated at home, and had tutors who were often (but not always) family slaves. One of the best-known tutors is Orbilius, who taught the poet Horace, and his story is told at Shelton 137 (p. 103).In early Rome, it seems, there were no schools to speak of and most education was done at home, but as time went by schools arose and boys had their early education there. In some cases, a wealthy local noble might establish a school as a gift to his town: see, e.g., Pliny’s story at Shelton 142.The curriculum consisted of lots of memorization, especially of poetry. An account of a student’s day appears at Shelton 145 (p. 108). There were different levels of teacher: the first teacher was a grammaticus, who taught the boys how to speak correctly and how to study poetry and prose: he treated very much the basics. For those who wanted to go on, the next step was to study with a rhetor: this provided preparation for a public life, either as a politician, lawyer, or public speaker. In the schools of the rhetors, a student would practice making speeches by being given an imaginary situation or some situation taken from literature or history. The student would then compose a speech on the spot. One type of speech was the suasoria, where the student would argue a particular point of view: see, for example, the topic that revolves around Cicero and Antony, Shelton 154 (p.115). A more complicated case, and a subject for more advanced students, was the controversia: this usually turned on fine legal points, sometimes legal precedents that seemed to be contradictory; it was the student’s job to figure out how to deal with the situation: see examples at Shelton 155 (p.116). Sometimes critics found fault with the unreality of these speeches, and sometimes their concern with style more than content was faulted: see Tacitus’ criticisms at Shelton 157 (p. 118)....
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course CLA 2123 taught by Professor Wise during the Spring '08 term at FSU.
- Spring '08