Museum Home Past Exhibitions Coming of Age in Ancient Greece

September 14–December 5, 2004 at the Getty Center

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Statuette of a Woman Teaching a Girl to Cook
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Statuette of a Woman Teaching a Girl to Cook, 500–475 B.C.
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Apollonia, an ancient Greek girl, tells us about this scene and the things girls in ancient Greece learned.

Most Greek girls did not go to school. They stayed home and learned to do the things women did, like spin yarn, weave fabric, and cook.

Girls grew up faster than boys. At age 15 they married men who were usually about 30 and moved into their husbands' houses. Getting married and having a child were the two most important moments in a young woman's life.

In ancient Greece, girls learned to cook by watching and practicing. This girl peers into a kettle as her mother sprinkles in herbs. Imagine cooking 2,000 years ago without refrigerators, microwaves, or stoves!


Boys from poor families learned their fathers' work by helping in their shops or farms. Wealthy boys learned to read, write, sing, dance, play musical instruments, and compete at sports. Very wealthy boys would also learn philosophy and speech. No wonder boys were not considered grown up until age 30—they had a lot to learn.

An aulos player provides music for the athletic workout on the vase at right. There weren't CD players back then. Two of the youths here are throwing the discus while the boy on the right softens the ground with a pickax for the long jump.

Detail: workout to the aulos (double pipes)
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Detail: workout to the aulos (double pipes)
Cup with Youthful Athletes Training
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Cup with Youthful Athletes Training, 515–510 B.C.