Ancient Greeks & their children – What were their lives like?

[Remember in past times that childbirth was dangerous. It is said that one third of Roman women died during childbirth. We whites used to be much tougher. The women died in childbirth and the men died in battle – in about the same ratios. But these days, the way our science and medicine has progressed, such threats to the lives of our women are minor. This is no longer a deadly threat. Jan]

Having a new baby enter the world is usually a time for celebration.

The ancient Greeks also liked to celebrate a new born child.

Dads would hold the new child while moms would place a wreath on the door as an announcement.

Neighbors would bring gifts to help the family celebrate.

Birth

Although, new born children are a time to celebrate that was not always the case in ancient Greece. Child birth took place within the home.

Mom would have help from other female residents of the house including slaves.

Sometimes Greek mothers would use a midwife to help with birth. The only time a male would enter the room was because of complications.

At this point a male physician would be called to assist with the birth.

Many times babies died a few days after birth. Children did not receive a name once out of the womb. Parents waited seven to ten days after birth to name their child.

During the naming ceremony there was a purification ceremony to further cleanse the baby.

If a baby was born ill with disease or with a deformity, the family would abandon the baby. Many times a family would abandon their baby outdoors or on top of a hill.

Girls were abandoned more than boys. Sometimes a passing family might take the abandoned child and raise the individual as a slave.

Giving birth in Sparta was different. When the new born child arrived, they would be carefully examined.

The child would be killed on the spot if found to be deformed or with disease. The Spartans only wanted children that could be considered great warriors when they grew old.

Childhood

Children in ancient Greek spent most of their time with their mothers.

Mothers were responsible for raising the children and teaching them basic skills.

Brothers and sisters generally played at home with each other learning the same basic skills until the age of seven years old.

Girls

Girls within ancient Greece were not taught to read and write. Instead their education was surrounded by household work.

Young girls were taught to weave, cook, embroider and take care of the home. Occasionally a girl from a wealthy family would be given a basic education of reading and writing.

Spartan girls enjoyed a different type of childhood. Girls in Sparta were encouraged to dance, learn music and sing.

Girls were taught athletics and gymnastics. Every girl also received a basic education of reading and writing.

At the age of 12 or 13 years old, young girls would take their childhood toys to the Temple of Artemis.

They would leave their toys in a symbolic jester of their childhood ending.

After this point in time, young girls were married off in arranged marriages. Many times these arranged marriages were to men in their thirties.

Boys

Young boys would stay with their mothers until the age of six years old. Their mother was responsible for teaching boys basic tasks. Boys were more likely to learn how to read and write.

Boys from poorer families would also work the fields.

At the age of seven boys started to learn their father’s trade.

Wealthier families had their boys attend school where they would learn grammar, music and gymnastics. Many city-states required boys to join the military at eighteen years old.

Spartan boys were different. At the age of seven years old, they were taken to the barracks.

At the barracks, young boys would be taught military tactics. Spartan boys stayed at the barracks until they were thirty years of age.

Toys and games

Common toys that the children of ancient Greece played with include rag dolls, small pottery figurines, rattles, balls and even yo-yos.

Children would play games that involved running, jumping and tossing things into buckets. Other activities children enjoyed were listening to stories about Greek gods.

Greek fables where used as learning tools.

Facts about children in ancient Greece

  • Children did not receive a name for around seven to ten days after birth.
  • Deformed or sick children were abandoned by the parents.
  • Deformed children in Sparta were killed immediately.
  • Children were taught at home by their mothers.
  • At age seven boys began to learn specific trades.
  • Spartan boys were sent to off to learn military tactics while living in the barracks.
  • Many girls were not taught to read and write.
  • Spartan girls enjoyed more freedom and education.
  • At the age of eighteen years old, boys enlisted in the military
  • Source: https://www.coolaboo.com/world-history/ancient-greece/ancient-greek-children/

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