What Was Life Like for Boys in Ancient Athens?

In ancient Athens, most boys had an interesting life that included going to school and playing games. However, some boys who were considered to be sickly or weak had vastly different paths laid out for them.

Fathers were able to decide if a new baby, both boys and girls, could live. If the baby was considered too weak or was unwanted, then it would be left outside to die. Anyone who found the baby would be allowed to adopt it and raise it as his or her own child or as a slave.

Boys who were kept were sent to school at 7 years of age. They would learn to read and write. Poor boys often did not get the same quality education because school teachers were paid directly by parents.

Playing children’s games was an important part of life for boys in Greece. The boys would play with rattles, hoops, the original form of jacks and other games that included balls. There was always a competitive spirit that pervaded the children’s games, much like the competitive beliefs that the Greek society upheld. There was an emphasis on stating clear winners and losers in each game, and an emphasis on deception, manipulation and trickery in the games that is not often used in modern similar games.