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A fragment of Homer's Iliad on papyrus

Roman high school: A fragment of Homer’s Iliad on papyrus

Who went to high school?

Only the richest and smartest Roman boys went on from elementary school to high school. Most girls couldn’t go to high school, but some girls were homeschooled.

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Leaving home for school

Most towns didn’t have a high school, so in order to go to high school you had to leave home and go live in a big city, without your family. (That was one reason girls couldn’t go.)

You didn’t live in a dormitory, the way kids at boarding school do today, but you had to find a room of your own. Or maybe friends of your parents would let you stay at their house.

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Your parents had to pay the teacher, and also pay for your room and board. The African scholar Augustine, for example, left his home town when he was fifteen to live in the big city of Carthage and go to school there.

Who was Augustine?
Where is Carthage?

What did you learn?

In the high school, you learned more different kinds of subjects than in the elementary school. Many boys learned to speak and read Greek in high school, practicing by memorizing hundreds of lines of Homer. The most important subject was rhetoric (REH-torr-ick), or speech-making. Boys also studied philosophy.

Roman elementary school
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Bibliography and further reading about Roman schools:

Roman elementary schools
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