In this regard we have a very important archaeological find: the notebook of a young Christian student of 4th-c. Egypt, different in nothing from a Hellenistic manual of the same period or of previous centuries: the same mythological names, the same sentences and moral anecdotes, but with unmistakable Christian signs: the invocation Blessed be God placed at the top of the first page and a monogram cross carefully traced at the beginning of each page. We can suppose that Christian teachers in elementary schools were numerous before Constantine Apos. Trad. 16; Tert., De idol. Madison Metro Map 10; well known among them were Origen’s father, Leonides, and Origen himself, who started a grammar school at age 17 Euseb., HE VI, 2,15. Children’s games in antiquity were simpler than those of today; nor did ancient educators have any concern for articulating a theory of education. Toys found in the tombs of Christian or pagan children are the perennial games in which the youngster uses up excess energy, discovers and disciplines his motor reactions, and imitates in his own way adult activities: trinkets, dolls, horses, little place settings for snacks or tools for gardening, carts, balls. The life and circumstances of children depended on their parents and masters; no law explicitly defended them. Christianity sought through its moral influence to eliminate inhuman practices against children, radically defending human life both before and after birth Didache 2,2; Ps.-Barn. 19,5; Apos. Con. VII, 3,2; Athen., Leg. 35,6; Tertull., Ap. 9,6-8; it raised its voice against the cruelty of parents or masters Eph 6:4, helping out where possible. Christians opposed the practice, widespread in antiquity, of exposing children: if one did not want to raise a newborn, the child was exposed in a particular spot in the city, at Rome on the banks of the Tiber or near the Columna Lactaria in the Forum Holitorium, where anyone could pick him up and use him for their own interests, either educating or selling him as a slave. In ancient Christian literature, Hermas wrote that this had happened to him Vis. I,1,1. Christians took in these exposed children to save them, though often they could do nothing more than bury them, as the tombs of many children and inscriptions in the catacombs attest Diehl II,142 in some cases consecrated virgins Aug., Ep. 98 or benevolent wealthy families educated them. They were called alumnus, proiectus, stercorius, kopron, threptos. After Constantine, laws began to protect these abandoned children, defending them as free persons CJ VIII, 52,3-4. Later it was largely monasteries that assumed the burden of educating these children, establishing conditions for their admission to a convent; orphans were accepted unconditionally Basil, Reg. Maior, 15.
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