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The School of Rome

The School of Rome: Latin Studies and the Origins of Liberal Education

W. Martin Bloomer
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 294
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn81s
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  • Book Info
    The School of Rome
    Book Description:

    This fascinating cultural and intellectual history focuses on education as practiced by the imperial age Romans, looking at what they considered the value of education and its effect on children. W. Martin Bloomer details the processes, exercises, claims, and contexts of liberal education from the late first century BCE to the third century CE—the epoch of rhetorical education. He examines the adaptation of Greek institutions, methods, and texts by the Romans, and traces the Romans’ own history of education. Bloomer argues that while Rome’s enduring educational legacy includes the seven liberal arts and a canon of school texts, its practice of competitive displays of reading, writing, and reciting were intended to instill in the young social as well as intellectual ideas.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94840-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Three Vignettes
    (pp. 1-8)

    In the summer of 44 B.C., an aristocratic youth studying in Athens wrote his father’s agent assuring him, a bit too eagerly, that all was going well with his Greek philosophy teacher. The man no longer seemed so severe and now even dropped by unannounced for dinner. Could the agent send the young man a trained slave, preferably a Greek, to transcribe notes? Three months earlier the youth had been visited by a friend of his father on the way out from Rome to serve as a short-lived governor ofAsia. Trebonius wrote back to the father to report that the...

  5. 1 In Search of the Roman School
    (pp. 9-21)

    The centuries-long efforts and activities of students, teachers, parents, and patrons in Roman schools will be explored in this book as an important and innovative component in the making of Roman culture, with significant consequences for the methods and agents of education in the West. Histories of education tend to celebrate founders and revolutionaries. In such dramatic narratives, the Greeks have fared better than the Romans. No matter that the the notions of “Greeks” and “Romans” are rather vague, and, in our period, overlap; that the Greeks too were transmitters (and modifiers) of techniques and institutions of the training of...

  6. 2 First Stories of School
    (pp. 22-36)

    Several stories constitute the chief evidence for how, in the third and second centuries B.C., literary education became part of the city elite’s communication of status, merit, and achievement. The century following the arrival of the first teachers of historical record, Spurius Carvilius, Ennius, and Naevius, did see a refounding of education at Rome. Although at the expense of an accurate memory of the earlier history of Roman education (some of the reasons for which I have touched on above and will consider further below), Hellenistic experts and expertise changed Roman education profoundly.¹ The experts brought with them an advanced...

  7. 3 The School of Impudence
    (pp. 37-52)

    Between the century of the first teachers (roughly 240–140 B.C.) and the efflorescence of literary activity in the first centuries B.C. and A.D., a small hint of the variety of Roman schooling is provided in a notice about a single school. The innovative methods of a rhetorician had so offended the censors of 92 B.C. that they issued an edict of disapproval. The identity of the teacher, the nature of his offense, and the motives of his critics are, in fact, not easy to discern, but the sense of crisis is palpable. The censors’ disapproval left a strong mark...

  8. 4 The Manual and the Child
    (pp. 53-80)

    The exemplary education of the young Roman, glimpsed so far in anecdotes told by or about exemplary fathers and a mother (Cato, Aemilius Paulus, Cornelia), receives systematic treatment in two manuals of education of the late first century A.D., theInstitutio oratoria(The Orator’s Education) of Quintilian and theDe liberis educandis(On the Education of Children) written by a student or follower of Plutarch. Like the evidence for education in the republic, the works of the imperial age dispense praise and blame to exhort the reader toward an ideal education, and away from disapproved methods and teachers. In the...

  9. 5 The Child an Open Book
    (pp. 81-110)

    TheDe liberis educandiscommunicates a confident educationalism. Through well managed mental labor the child amasses a reserve of linguistic and cultural capital that demonstrates his legitimacy. Successful learning furnishes the requisite proof that his body has been kept from contagion and that his speech and ongoing selfculture will remain worthy of a free man. Quintilian shows remarkable similarities in his discussion of the proper education of the male heir, perhaps understandably since Plutarch and Quintilian taught at Rome at the same time. Quintilian was so popular that students pirated some of his work.¹ In fact, theDe liberis educandis...

  10. 6 Grammar and the Unity of Curriculum
    (pp. 111-138)

    Describing the curriculum of a school can be like describing the plot of a novel. The successful summarist reduces the rich texture of discourse to a narrative list. Among the losses arising from the reduction: a summary list suppresses viewpoint—it is the particular, often retrospective scheme of analysis and discourse of one person—and the list of events suggests an evenly paced, progressive narrative. If a novel is not reducible to plot, schooling ought not to be reduced to that other textual list, curriculum, and, to complicate our analogy, the school is not simply a text or a series...

  11. 7 The Moral Sentence
    (pp. 139-169)

    In 1605, the great classical scholar Joseph Scaliger reedited a text that had been very successfully edited by Erasmus, theDistichs of Cato. This third-century A.D. Roman school text had lost none of its appeal, but Scaliger’s sense of the popularity and utility of the work was striking. In his edition of theDistichs,he remarked:Est vero iste libellus non solum pueris, sed et senioribus factus. Et ego mihi conscius sum, multos gravissimos et doctissimos viros non puduisse, iam provectos aetate, haec disticha memoriter discere.¹ (“In fact this is a book not only for boys but for their elders....

  12. 8 Rhetorical Habitus
    (pp. 170-192)

    Declamation was the final practical performance training in speaking of the Roman school. In outline, the exercises are simple. Finished at last with the preliminary exercises (theprogymnasmata), the adolescent male gets down to intellectual wrestling that mimics the strife of adults through the pretense that the boy is the head of a household, a lawyer, a magistrate, or an adviser. First in thesuasoria(which girls too might have spoken, since it was taught in the grammarian’s school), he is a counselor to some great man, trying to turn the tide of history. Should Numa accept the kingship offered...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-200)

    A liberal education, on an ancient and a modern understanding, promises freedom from want, from ignorance, and perhaps from convention, although this last claim especially merits strict questioning. The idea that education changes something essential about a person, even that it liberates the self, remains strong. Plutarch and Quintilian, however, as we have seen, were not writing Enlightenment essays about the self tearing itself away from its own society’s institutions. They were adapting and explaining the system of education that had spread across the Mediterranean in Hellenistic times. They might have believed, as Cicero did (De or.3.127), that the...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 201-246)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 247-266)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 267-281)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 282-282)