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CLASSICS

The latest name in the above list is that of Polybius, who died about 123 B.C. Apollonius Rhodius, Aratus and Theocritus were subsequently added to the “epic” poets. Philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, were possibly classed in a separate “canon.”

While the scholars of Alexandria were mainly interested in the verbal criticism of the Greek poets, a wider variety of studies was the characteristic of the school of Pergamum, the literary rival of Alexandria. Pergamum was a home of learning for a large part of the 150 years of the Attalid dynasty, 283-133 B.C.

The grammar of the Stoics, gradually elaborated by Zeno, Cleanthes and Chrysippus, supplied a terminology which, in words such as “genitive,” “accusative” and “aorist,” has become a permanent part of the grammarian’s vocabulary; and the study of this grammar found its earliest home in Pergamum.

From about 168 B.C. the head of the Pergamene school was Crates of Mallus, who (like the Stoics) was an adherent of the principle of “anomaly” in grammar, and was thus opposed to Aristarchus of Alexandria, the champion of “analogy.” He also opposed Aristarchus, and supported the Stoics, by insisting on an allegorical interpretation of Homer. He is credited with having drawn up the classified lists of the best authors for the Pergamene library. His mission as an envoy to the Roman senate, “shortly after the death of Ennius” in 169 B.C., had a remarkable influence on literary studies in Rome. Meeting with an accident while he was wandering on the Palatine, and being detained in Rome, he passed part of his enforced leisure in giving lectures (possibly on Homer, his favourite author), and thus succeeded in arousing among the Romans a taste for the scholarly study of literature. The example set by Crates led to the production of a new edition of the epic poem of Naevius, and to the public recitation of the Annals of Ennius, and (two generations later) the Satires of Lucilius.

(ii.) The Roman Age.—(a) Latin Studies.—In the 1st century B.C. the foremost scholar in Rome was L. Aelius Stilo (c. 154-c. 74), who is described by Cicero as profoundly learned in Greek and Latin literature, and as an accomplished critic of Roman antiquities and of ancient authors. Of the plays then passing under the name of Plautus, he recognized twenty-five as genuine. His most famous pupil was Varro (116-27), the six surviving books of whose great work on the Latin language are mainly concerned with the great grammatical controversy on analogy and anomaly—a controversy which also engaged the attention of Cicero and Caesar, and of the elder Pliny and Quintilian. The twenty-one plays of Plautus accepted by Varro are doubtless the twenty now extant, together with the lost Vidularia. The influence of Varro’s last work on the nine disciplinae, or branches of study, long survived in the seven “liberal arts” recognized by St Augustine and Martianus Capella, and in the trivium and quadrivium of the middle ages.

Part of Varro’s treatise on Latin was dedicated to Cicero (106-43), who as an interpreter of Greek philosophy to his fellow-countrymen enlarged the vocabulary of Latin by his admirable renderings of Greek philosophical terms, and thus ultimately gave us such indispensable words as “species,” “quality” and “quantity.”

The earliest of Latin lexicons was produced about 10 B.C. by Verrius Flaccus in a work, De Verborum Significatu, which survived in the abridgment by Festus (2nd century A.D.) and in the further abridgment dedicated by Paulus Diaconus to Charles the Great.

Greek models were diligently studied by Virgil and Horace. Their own poems soon became the theme of criticism and of comment; and, by the time of Quintilian and Juvenal, they shared the fate (which Horace had feared) of becoming text-books for use in schools.

Recensions of Terence, Lucretius and Persius, as well as Horace and Virgil, were produced by Probus (d. A.D. 88), with critical symbols resembling those invented by the Alexandrian scholars. His contemporary Asconius is best known as the author of an extant historical commentary on five of the speeches of Cicero. In A.D. 88 Quintilian was placed at the head of the first state-supported school in Rome. His comprehensive work on the training of the future orator includes an outline of general education, which had an important influence on the humanistic schools of the Italian Renaissance. It also presents us with a critical survey of the Greek and Latin classics arranged under the heads of poets, historians, orators and philosophers (book x. chap. i.). The lives of Roman poets and scholars were among the many subjects that exercised the literary skill of Hadrian’s private secretary, Suetonius. One of his lost works is the principal source of the erudition of Isidore of Seville (d. A.D. 636), whose comprehensive encyclopaedia was a favourite text-book in the middle ages. About the time of the death of Suetonius (A.D. 160) a work entitled the Noctes Atticae was begun by Aulus Gellius. The author is an industrious student and a typical scholar, who frequents libraries and is interested in the MSS. of old Latin authors. Early in the 4th century the study of grammar was represented in northern Africa by the Numidian tiro, Nonius Marcellus (fl. 323), the author of an encyclopaedic work in three parts, lexicographical, grammatical and antiquarian, the main value of which lies in its quotations from early Latin literature. About the middle of the same century grammar had a far abler exponent at Rome in the person of Aelius Donatus, the preceptor of St Jerome, as well as the author of a text-book that remained in use throughout the middle ages. The general state of learning in this century is illustrated by Ausonius (c. 310-393), the grammarian and rhetorician of Bordeaux, the author of the Mosella, and the probable inspirer of the memorable decree of Gratian (376), providing for the appointment and the payment of teachers of rhetoric and of Greek and Latin literature in the principal cities of Gaul. His distinguished friend, Q. Aurelius Symmachus, the consul of A.D. 391, aroused in his own immediate circle an interest in Livy, the whole of whose history was still extant. Early in the 5th century other aristocratic Romans interested themselves in the textual criticism of Persius and Martial. Among the contemporaries of Symmachus, the devoted adherent of the old Roman religion, was St Jerome (d. 420), the most scholarly representative of Christianity in the 4th century, the student of Plautus and Terence, of Virgil and Cicero, the translator of the Chronology of Eusebius, and the author of the Latin version of the Bible now known as the Vulgate. St Augustine (d. 430) confesses to his early fondness for Virgil, and also tells us that he received his first serious impressions from the Hortensius of Cicero, an eloquent exhortation to the study of philosophy, of which only a few fragments survive. In his survey of the “liberal arts” St Augustine imitates (as we have seen) the Disciplinae of Varro, and in the greatest of his works, the De Civitate Dei (426), he has preserved large portions of the Antiquitates of Varro and the De Republica of Cicero. About the same date, and in the same province of northern Africa, Martianus Capella produced his allegorical work on the “liberal arts,” the principal, and, indeed, often the only, text-book of the medieval schools.

In the second half of the 5th century the foremost representative of Latin studies in Gaul was Apollinaris Sidonius (fl. 470), whose Letters were modelled on those of the younger Pliny, while his poems give proof of a wide though superficial acquaintance with classical literature. He laments the increasing decline in the classical purity of the Latin language.

An interest in Latin literature lived longest in Gaul, where schools of learning flourished as early as the 1st century at Autun, Lyons, Toulouse, Nîmes, Vienne, Narbonne and Marseilles; and, from the 3rd century onwards, at Trier, Poitiers, Besançon and Bordeaux.

About ten years after the death of Sidonius we find Asterius, the consul of 494, critically revising the text of Virgil in Rome. Boëthius, who early in life formed the ambitious plan of expounding and reconciling the opinions of Plato and Aristotle, continued in the year of his sole consulship (510) to instruct his fellow-countrymen in the wisdom of Greece. He is a link between the ancient world and the middle ages, having been the last of the learned Romans who understood the language and studied the