Although the Life of the Child (see Four Lives) is a time of preparation for adulthood, few Gehennese children suffer formal schooling. Most learn from their parents by watching and helping, undergoing an informal apprenticeship in whatever their parents do. The closest they come to formal instruction is when a priest teaches them a hymn or sacred dance so that they can take their proper place in some religious service, or when an older child teaches them the steps of a mundane dance.

Education proper is the privilege of the leisured class, and consists of two parts: gymnastics and scholastics.

Gymnastics is the less exclusive part. Nearly everyone takes part in athletics, and all boys of citizen status undergo some formal training in the gymnasium while they are ephebes.

Scholastics, the liberal arts of Gehennum, are the privilege of the leisured. To acquire a knowledge of scholastics without the wealth of leisure is very difficult, and scholarly slaves are much in demand as pedagogues.

Accomplishment in scholastics and gymnastics are more than the mark of a gentleman: they are the sine qua non of a public career. Gymnastics equips a man to excel as a warrior and to win the respect of his fellows at games. Scholastics includes skills essential to the magistrate and priest.

Girls and women in upper-class families are often encouraged or permitted to practice gymnastics to make them healthy and attractive, and for religious reasons having to do with women’s games. Apart from music, however, scholastics were considered unsuitable for women until hetairas such as Aspasia demonstrated accomplishment in them in the early Classical Period. After that women in progressive families are allowed to study scholastics in private or from books.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.