Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal of Ancient History

Ed. by Farney, Gary

2 Issues per year

Online
ISSN
2324-8114
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Pupil Punishment: corporal discipline in Roman education

Anna McGrail
Published Online: 2016-11-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2015-0013

Abstract

Though citizens of the Roman Empire were theoretically immune from corporal punishment, their children certainly were not. The bulla of citizenship worn around their necks did not save them from physical discipline in the classroom. Moreover, the punishments meted out to pupils were akin to both slave and criminal punishment, the very act of corporal punishment suggesting slave status. In a society in which honour played an important role, why would citizen parents allow their children to be treated in such a way? Even tools and methods used, such as the “rack and claws,” suggest this association between beatings and slavery (Aug. Conf. 1.9.15). Such ambiguity of status begs a deeper analysis of the place of children in the Roman world and the nature and purpose of violence against them. Through analysis of a variety of visual and literary evidence I argue that due to certain facets of virtus, the paterfamilias was more inclined to outsource the punishment of his children to those of the perceived correct social standing to carry it out, which I believe to have been teachers. This thesis is based on the evidence of slaves being used to whip other slaves and undertakers carrying out the torture and execution of criminals. Furthermore, I suggest that this apparently shameful treatment of the children of citizens could actually have been seen in the light of virtus: the attainment of manhood through pain, such as is found in the ambivalent status of gladiators and their martial “honour” (Cic. Tusc Disp. 2.17.41).

Keywords: Children; corporal punishment; virtus; education; teachers

Bibliography

  • Barton, C. A. Roman Honor: the fire in the bones. Berkeley: University of California, 2001.Google Scholar

  • Bloomer, W. M. The School of Rome: Latin studies and the origins of liberal Education. Berkeley: University of California, 2011.Google Scholar

  • Bonner, S. Education in Ancient Rome. Berkeley: University of California, 1977.Google Scholar

  • Bradley, K. R. Discovering the Roman Family: studies in Roman social history. New York: Oxford U. P., 1991.Google Scholar

  • Classen, A. Childhood in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: the results of a paradigm shift in the history of mentality. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2005.Google Scholar

  • Coleman, K. M. “Fatal charades: Roman executions staged as mythical enactments.” Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990): 44–73.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cooper, K. The Fall of the Roman Household. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2007.Google Scholar

  • Courtney, E. Musa Lapidaria. A selection of Latin verse, inscriptions. American Classical Studies 36. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995.Google Scholar

  • Cox, S. E., C. A. Marinescu, and R. Wachter. “Paideia’s children: childhood education on a group of Late Antique mosaics.” In Constructions of Childhood in the Ancient World of Greece and Italy. Hesperia Supplement 41., edited by A. Cohen and J. B. Rutter, 101–114. Princeton: ASCSA Publications, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Cribiore, R. Writing, Teachers and Students in Graeco-Roman Egypt. Atlanta: Scholars, 1996.Google Scholar

  • Curchin, L. A. “The Roman family: recent interpretations.” Revista de Prehistoria y Arquelogia 53: 2000: 535–550.Google Scholar

  • Edwards, C. “Unspeakable professions: public performance and prostitution in ancient Rome.” In Roman Sexualities, edited by J. P. Hallett and M. B. Skinner, Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1997: 66–96.Google Scholar

  • Frank, T. An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, Vol. V. Rome and Italy of the Empire. Paterson, NJ: Pageant Book, 1959.Google Scholar

  • Golden, M. “Did the ancients care when their children died?” Greece and Rome 35.2 (1988): 152–163.Google Scholar

  • Harris, W. V. Ancient Literacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. P., 1989.Google Scholar

  • Harlow, M. and R. Laurence. Growing Up and Growing Old in Ancient Rome: a life course approach. London: Routledge, 2002.Google Scholar

  • Kuefler, M. The Manly Eunuch: masculinity, gender ambiguity and Christian ideology in Late Antiquity. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2001.Google Scholar

  • Laes, C. Children in the Roman Empire: outsiders within. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2011.Google Scholar

  • Laes, C. “Schoolteachers in the Roman Empire: a survey of the epigraphical evidence.” Acta Classica 50, (2007): 109–127.Google Scholar

  • Marrou, H. I. A History of Education in Antiquity. Madison WI: University of Wisconsin, 1956.Google Scholar

  • Morgan, T. Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 1998.Google Scholar

  • Mousourakis, G. A Legal History of Rome. London: Routledge, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Murphy, J. J. “Roman writing instruction as described by Quintilian.” In A Short History of Writing Instruction: from ancient Greece to contemporary America, edited by J. J. Murphy, New York: Routledge, 2012: 36–76.Google Scholar

  • Parkin, T. and A. Pomeroy. Roman Social History: a sourcebook. London: Routledge, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Rawson, B. Children and Childhood in Roman Italy. Oxford: Oxford U. P., 2003.Google Scholar

  • Rusten, J. and I. C. Cunningham, (eds.). Theophrastus: Characters, Herodas: Mimes, and Sophron and Other Mime Fragments. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. P., 2002.Google Scholar

  • Saller, R. P. Patriarchy, Property and Death in the Roman Family. Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 1997.Google Scholar

  • Smart. C. Complete Works of Horace. Hastings: Delphi Classics., 2013.Google Scholar

  • Veyne, P. A. editor. History of Private Life, Volume I: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium. Cambridge, MA: Harvard U. P., 1992.Google Scholar

  • Walters, J. “Invading the Roman body.” In Roman Sexualities, edited by J. P. Hallett and M. B. Skinner, Princeton: Princeton U. P., 1997: 29–44.Google Scholar

  • Watson, A. editor. The Digest of Justinian, Vol. 3. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011a.Google Scholar

  • Watson, A. editor. The Digest of Justinian, Vol. 4. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011b.Google Scholar

  • Wiedemann, T. E. J. Adults and Children in the Roman Empire. London: Routledge, 1989.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2016-11-30

Published in Print: 2016-12-01


Citation Information: Journal of Ancient History, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 240–264, ISSN (Online) 2324-8114, ISSN (Print) 2324-8106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2015-0013.

Export Citation

© 2016 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in