Classical Education in Ancient Rome | Student Handouts
Welcome to Student! 100% free teaching materials for students in kindergarten through high school--lesson plans, worksheets, PowerPoints, outlines, interactive games, puzzles, and so much more!
Classical Education in Ancient Rome
Classical Education in Ancient Rome
An Ancient Roman School Scene: Bas-relief from a tombstone. The two older sons of a landowner are reading under the direction of a tutor. The youngest son, wax tablets in hand, stands waiting for his turn to recite. Click here to enlarge.

In ancient Rome, schools, known as ludus or scholae, varied in size and quality, but they generally followed a structured educational system.

Types of Schools:
  • Ludus Litterarius: These were elementary schools for young children, typically starting around the age of seven. The focus was on basic literacy, numeracy, and learning to read and write in Latin.
  • Grammaticus Schools: For older students, there were grammaticus schools. Here, students learned advanced Latin, literature, rhetoric, and sometimes Greek. These schools were often run by private teachers known as grammatici.
  • Rhetoric Schools: For those pursuing higher education, there were rhetoric schools where students learned advanced skills in public speaking and persuasive writing. These schools were often attached to or funded by wealthy individuals.
Location: Roman schools were usually located in or near urban areas, close to the forum or marketplace, where students could access them. Wealthier Romans might have private tutors come to their homes.

Students: The educational system was primarily designed for boys, and girls had limited access to formal education. Education was generally reserved for the upper classes, but some children from less privileged backgrounds attended rudimentary schools.

Teachers: Roman teachers were often slaves or freedmen, especially for elementary education. However, some well-regarded teachers gained respect and status in society. Wealthier families might hire private tutors.

Teaching Methods: Education was rigorous, and students were expected to memorize classical texts. Discipline was strict, and corporal punishment was not uncommon. Students were often divided into classes based on their age and skill level.

Facilities: Schools were generally small and unadorned, with simple wooden benches and writing materials. Rhetoric schools might have more sophisticated facilities, including lecture halls.

Duration: The length of education varied, but Roman students typically received several years of formal education. The educational journey often ended with the completion of a student's rhetoric training.

Ancient Texts: Roman education focused on classical literature and texts, including works by Cicero, Virgil, and other prominent Roman and Greek authors.

Decline: As the Roman Empire declined, so did the educational system. The classical curriculum waned, and the schools became less prestigious.

The educational system in ancient Rome was largely an affair for the elite, and it played a significant role in the propagation of Roman culture and values. It emphasized oratory, literature, and the study of classical texts, contributing to the intellectual legacy of the Roman world.
Free K-12 Education Printables and More
A Roman triumph.
Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire Outline-Timeline-Facts
Interior and plan of a Roman house, restoration.
Kennedy and the Cold War Reading with Questions
Antony and Cleopatra. Painting by Alma-Tadema.
Ancient Rome Books and FilmsAncient Rome Outlines and Powerpoints
Ancient Rome Maps and PicturesAncient Rome Online Study Games
Ancient Rome MiscellanyAncient Rome Worksheets