It is now the very beginning of a child's life. In ancient Rome, when a child is born, it is immediately laid at its father's feet. If the father raised the child into his arms, it meant that he was acknowledging the child as his own and admitting it to all rights and privileged of membership in a Roman family. But if the father did not take it out, the child was an outcast, without family or protection. It was left on the streets until someone else picked it up. This happened rarely, though. Parents had the right to do away with children anytime who were sickly at birth, malformed, or simply too difficult to take care of. But these ancient traditions were replaced with more humane attitudes due to the spread of Christianity.
During the first eight days of an ancient Roman baby's life, there were various religious ceremonies. The day of naming was usually called "dies luctricus". Dies Luctricus meant; day of purification. On the day the child was purified and named, the father placed around the child's neck a special locket called a "bulla" which contained an amulet for protection against evil. The child also received small metal charms from family friends, relatives, and household slaves. A boy was not enrolled as a citizen until he put on a man's toga, but his father had to register the child's name and the date of its birth within thirty days.
A Roman child's toys were very simple, unlike the mechanical ones we have today. Then came the rag dolls and dolls of clay or wax, some with jointed arms and legs. There seem to have been games corresponding to blindman's bluff, hide-and-seek, seesaw, and jackstones. Games were played on boards, pebbles and nuts were used as children now use marbles.
The life of ancient Roman children varied. Children of slaves were born into slavery. Girls did not even have names of their own, but bore the feminine forms of their fathers' first names. When the boys reached the age of seven, he went on to a regular teacher and a girl would remain her mother's constant companion. A girl's formal education was cut short because a girl married early and there was much to learn of home management. Fathers taught their sons to; swim, run, and handle weapons. Mothers taught their daughters how to spin wool and keep house.
The most important virtues for all children to acquire were reverence for the gods, respect for the law, unquestioning and instant obedience to authority, truthfulness, and self-radiance. Wealthy Romans entrusted their children's education to special slaves called pedagogues. Pedagogues were often of Greek origin. Naughty students were punished physically, being hit by a rod or beaten by a whip. Toward the end of the Republic, the pedagogue's role was to accompany children to and from school and to make them recite their lessons out loud. A master's rod, or ferula, was a symbol of his authority. From the ages seven to twelve, upper class children got their lessons from the magister, or schoolmaster. They taught reading, writing, and mathematics. From ages twelve to seventeen, they went to grammar school and learned gramaticus(memorizing poems). This was a very important part of education. At the age of seventeen, adolescents studied with a rhetorician(master of writing and public speaking). Wealthiest students later went off the Greece to study with a philosopher.
Schooling of children varied between the classes. The training of lower class children was conducted by their parents.
Until the age of seven, lower classed boys and girls were taught by their mother to
speak Latin correctly and do elementary reading, writing, and arithmetic. Roman schools were called ludi, a term
that meant play and amusement as well as the place where children learned. Classes were often held outdoors or in the
shade of the porticos. Small sweet candies called crustulae, shaped like the letters of the alphabet were designed
to help children learn to read and write. Children carried capsae, or cases full of school supplies. They wrote on wooden
tablets coated with a layer of soft wax. Letters and words were traced into the wax with the sharp tip of a metal or ivory tube
whose blunt end served as an eraser. When they learned to count, they used abacuses.