Humanistic and technical education in antiquity and the middle ages.
1.1 Dawn of Scientific Thought of Humanity
Origins (absolute beginnings) of many things, as well as knowledge, are lost in the darkness of past times. Certain kinds of knowledge and scientific disciplines can be found in all, or almost all humans and civilizations: Greeks, Egyptians, populations in Mesopotamia, India and China, even in pre-Columbian America. For instance around 3 000 years BC Hindus studied phonetics, grammar, exegesis, logic, mathematics, astronomy and some other scientific disciplines as propaedeutics for understanding the Vedas. It is quite certain that the ancient Egyptians definitely had to be acquainted with sciences such as mathematics, geometry and astronomy, or the art of music, painting, sculpture and other arts, particularly mechanics, construction techniques etc. as they built magnificent pyramids more than 4 or 5 thousand years ago and determined calendar of the Nile floods. Knowledge and cognition are important human characteristics which determine a man distinguishing him from the surrounding world. They make him free primarily from the slavery of darkness of ignorance which obstructs his vision and from the slavery of prejudice which are only different names for the same darkness.
We do not want to diminish or deny merit or importance to any nation but we can state that the European or western civilization traces its origins from ancient Greece. Although the Greeks inherited or accepted some knowledge from other nations, they knew how to enrich it with something of their own. This "something" was great enough to make them a nation which probably indebted entire humanity with their achievements more than any other. Their ability of abstract thinking, thoroughness and critical approach in the study of nature and man could not be equaled over the course of history. Due to stregth of their mind in only three centuries (6th-3rd cent. BC) they set humanity free from myths and superstitions enabling it to make reasonable vision of a man and world around him lying in that way foundations of what we refer to as scientific view of the world. Their thinkers, frequently without consulting with one another, seemed to compete who would deep diver in the sea of discovering secrets hidden in a man and world around him.
AIThough most of components of the general civilization existed for thousands years in different parts of the world it is doubtless that the Greeks made the greatest progress. By pure strength of mind they set humanity free from primitive beliefs, traditional prejudice and irrational conceptions characteristic of the populations on lower stage of civilizational development and enabled rational Prometean "conquering of the sky" i.e. understanding manifestational world. Ancient Greek religion was never crystallized as Judaism, Christianity or Islam in terms of monoteistic religion nor did it have sacred books or deities who determined human fate. While others divinized nature and its phenomena, Greeks humanized them. Their theogony as described by forefathers" of Greek historical memory Homer and somewhat younger Hesiod (ca. 7th century BC) were gods and goddesses residing on not very high Mount Olympus. AIThough omnipotent and immortal they were only idealized human figures with pronounced human characteristics, faults and virtues. However there is insurmountable gap between gods and men: gods have superhuman powers and immortality. They are important as they symbolize certain human characteristics: strength (Zeus), beauty (Aphrodite and Hermes), intelligence (Apollo) etc. which are at the same time purely human ideals. In certain preserved statues representing young athletes it is not easy to determine whether it was Apollo or personification of youth, strength and beauty. Apollo whose seat was at Delphi was a patron of strength, youth, art, medicine, music, poetry and rhetorics. Aim of art was to represent beauty of idealized human or divine figure. Relation of Greek deities with humans is neither personal nor intimate but formal and external as relation of a king with his subjects. Human aspiration to achieve these characteristics is represented in the myth about Prometheus who as a mortal man "steals" secret of "fire" (knowledge, power) which the Olympian gods enviously kept for themselves.
In other words ideal of old Greeks was to obtain natural secrets and powers or at least understand how this visible world works. While they remained on this "primitive" level in their considerations of gods, they went further than any other nation in understanding of the world. Light of reason with which they came to idea to understand nature and explain it with their own and general laws was first ignited in Ionia and later elsewhere where enlightened individuals started asking questions which still represent challenge for human mind: wherefrom all this, what is it of and why? Democritus (460-370) was first to come to idea that visible world was made from tiny, invisible and inseparable particles which he called atoms; Socrates (469-399) with his seemingly naive but very deep questions forced others to think unwillingly so he was called "the gadfly of Athens"; Plato (427-347) raised such thoughts to metaphysical level on the basis of which task of philosophy was to realize vison of eternal and perfect forms which represent true values of the universe; Aristotle (384-322) was concentrated on studying facts creating in his quest of truth formal logic. These are only some representatives of the Greek scientific and philosophic thought who still did not clearly distinguish areas of purely philosophic speculation and science in the strict sense of the word: scientific thought was involved with speculations about creation and structure of the universe, and philosophy had pretensions to explore it. In accordance with this understanding philosophers were at the same time scientific researchers and people who tried to understand deep meaning of evrerything that exists. But it was not harmful for general progress. There are many achievements of Greek thinkers in art, architecture, literature, philosophy and other disciplines which had set merits of western art for more than two thousand years. Their influence was so great that in the west classical art was considered as not only highest but also only "real" art of the civilized man.
But Greek achievements in the purely intellectual field are often even more exceptional. They not only invented science and philosophy; they were the first to write history from ordinary annals; they discussed freely about the nature of the world, meaning of life, state system and started to organize foundation of schools for their fellow-citizens finding in their poet Homer ideal expression of their culture and identity. His epics were a basic source of knowledge about the gods, history, language, culture and customs to all generations of the Greeks, to put it simply similar as the Bible for the Christians or the Koran for the Muslims.
In order to comprehend understanding of physics by the ancient Greeks it is necessary to understand their ideational background. Their creative background is different from the one in modern scientist. Presently children grow with mechanics which makes us think of machines by its very name. They are used to cars and planes, computers and other wonders of modern electronics. They cannot even start to think that car contains a sort of horse or that a plane flies since it has wings of a bird with magical powers.
1.2 Ionia--Cradle of the Greek Civilization
The first and most important teacher of all Greeks was legendary blind poet Homer who was supposed to have lived in the 8th century BC. Leaving aside discussions about his actual historical existence and authorship of the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey which are ascribed to him we would just like to say that he is considered as the founder of entire Greek culture in the earliest tradition. From his epic poems we can conclude that culture in the period about which he writes was a privilege of a sort of warrior aristocracy. His heroes are not raw soldiers, warriors and prehistoric warriors but a kind of knights who served at royal courts and enjoyed great respect alongside priests when they offered sacrifices. They were raised as knights and acted in precisely determined code of honor, in wars and mutual duels they respected honor of their enemies, they treated ladies as gentlemen, which implies adequate upbringing. Achilles, one of Homer's heroes has several excellent teachers. One of them, Chiron teaches Achilles sport and chivalry competition, hunting, riding, sword-play, spear throwing, lyre playing and even surgery and pharmacy. Achilles treats his old teachers which were entrusted with his upbringing with respect, as a true knight, he accepts their advice and executes their instructions.
Homer's hero is a disciple who accepts from his teachers everything that a knight and warrior must know: he must possess all knowledge and skills. In his upbringing it is easy to notice two basic factors: technique which a disciple must possess in handling weapons and musical instruments and ethics which determines his relations with others. Only technical education can make a good warrior from a young man, and ethics i.e. upbringing refines a warrior making him a knight, who had to have manners, know life and world, and have wisdom. Technical knowledge necessary therein includes handling weapons, sport, chivalry games, oratorial skills (ability to speak properly and eloquently) and music skills (singing, lyre, dancing) etc. All these technical elements can be found in classical Greek upbringing. In specific cities-states (polis) these elements were enriched with many other skills and knowledge. In that way physical education, technical skills, warrior spirit and iron discipline were dominant in Sparta, and love for knowledge, tendency to intellectual thinking and wish for competition in Athens.
Homer was, as explained later by Plato, the first teacher of ancient Greece who laid foundations to its mentality and identity and provided directions to entire later development of intellectual upbringing. His epic poems which many children in Greece could recite by heart were appreciated not only as master-pieces of literary art but also as basic manuals from which literacy was taught, as sources of inspiration and knight's ethics. They were also used to learn how to behave properly and to develop love for knowledge. Children identified themselves with his heroes and formed their views of life.
1.3 Creation of Greek Scientific Thought
Greek scientific thought in broad meaning of the word was born in Ionia. This was the place where influences of cultures and civilizations of eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, primarily Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization mixed. Ionians had numerous connections with Egypt and Mesopotamia from which they learnt and accepted various notions and admitted to do so. It is more than likely that the Greeks learnt and accepted from these civilizations many things from the area of technology such as making ceramic objects, weaving, metal processing etc. While other nations were satisfied with practical use of these skills, the Greeks were tempted by their insatiable curiosity to ask for reasons and causes. In this quest for causes they added theory to the practice, mastered general terms and practiced recognizing generals laws. That is their specific contribution to human thought. In this encounter, mutual permeation and sometimes even conflict of mentioned civilizations, first sparkle of philosophy and science in broad sense of the word appeared which in time turned into a real flame on which humanity still gets warm and whose flame illuminates the darkness of ignorance.
Ionia was not only homeland of the legendary blind poet, pride of Greece but also a cradle of philosophy and science. At the beginning of the 6th century the Miletians were the first who started to understand that mythological explanations of the world do not satisfy their spirit so that they tried to explain its origin with reason believing that general and predictable laws rule the world, not coincidences or whims of gods. Something was born that might be referred to as the beginning of European philosophy. The first thinker who is known to have posed questions about the origin, causes and sense of manifestational world attempting to find a rational answer was Thales of Miletus, man with great practical gift which is listed among seven sages by Greek tradition. He concluded that world was created from water as he understood that humidity was necessary for life. Historian Herodotus (ca. 484-430) ascribes to him merits of predicting a Sun eclipse which--as it seems--happened in 585 BC, that he knew how to measure height of the Egyptian pyramids on the basis of their shadow, distance of a ship at sea using triangulation. It was the beginning of science and philosophy and of the Ionic philosophical school, first of the kind in history.
Thales' successor as the head of the school was his disciple philosopher Anaximander (ca. 610-640) who placed one neutral thing, "indetermined" and "infinite", as true principle of changes in the world, which produces individual things as its opposite (warm-cold, damp-dry). Living beings were created as heat (Sun) heated the water and men were similar to fish. This differentiation process finally ends in integration and returning of individual to original general. Anaximander composed the first map and model of sky after which Earth has shape of cylinder floating in the center of the world. Living beings including humans developed from lower organisms anticipating in that way later theory of evolutionism.
Third philosopher from this school was Anaximenes (ca. 585- 523) after whom principle of everything is air which is in constant movement transforming from one form into another, from simpler to more complex. All complex bodies are formed by joining these elements.
Persian occupation of the Greek cities on the Asia Minor coast, particularly Miletus (499 BC) which led to Ionic rebellion and was a cause of lengthy wars with the Greeks, resulted in migrations of educated Greeks westwards who seeked shelter in Greece, particularly on islands (Lesbos, Hios, Samos, Chios, Kos, Delos, Rhodos etc.) in the Ionian Sea, in the south of the Apennine Peninsula (Taranto, Metaponto, Sybaris, Kroton, Elea, Paestum, Neapolis), on the island of Sicily (Syracuse, Catania, Zancle, Acragas, Gela, Selinunte) etc. They continued their work there and founded many famous philosophical schools which questioned laws and sense of manifestational and non-manifestational world. In their considerations and explorations manifestational world and world of ideas went side by side as well as physics and metaphysics as parts of one whole or front and back side of one unique reality.
Pythagoras (ca. 571-ca. 497 BC) from the island of Samos probably takes the most prominent position among the first philosophers and scientists. While travelling on the Mediterranean he founded a peculiar philosophical school in Croton in southern Italy. He directed philosophy in a new direction making it a basis of life in a fraternity whose aims were not only philosophical but also political. Music was powerful medium of purifying human life which demands harmony of inner and outer life. As an excellent musician he played lyre using music to cure patients (musicotherapy). He believed that the world was "harmony" which was confirmed by intervals of musical scales and that everything in universe can be expressed with numbers.
His observation that strings of musical instruments make tones in harmony when coefficients of lengths of these strings were whole numbers led to discovering regularities in music and creating mathematical theory of music. He was first to use numbers to mark relations between tones of consonant intervals. After understanding that wire twice as short gives a higher tone for an octave, he marked octave relation with ratio of 2 : 1. In the same way he discovered ratio of parts of wire in a quint (3 : 2) and quart (4 : 3). He made musical scale from quint relations. Under influences of magical beliefs Pythagoras saw symbolical values in numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 relating them with seasons and cardinal directions. In three intervals of tuned wire he saw three ways of human life. In that way, by connecting real and unreal, reality and religion he searched the way towards purity of soul, believing that he would find it with help of music and ascetic life.
In other words music made him and his disciples conclude that numbers ruled the universe, particularly group 1-4 (so-called tetractys). AIThough this is pure speculation, tuned wire played an important role in the Greek philosophical thinking from this period. Notion of harmony in terms of balance, harmonizing and combining the opposites as long and short, high and low, warm and cold is a concept of average or middle way in ethics and theory of four temperaments are important achievements of Pythagoras' thinking. It is very likely that mentioned discoveries in music led to an idea that all things were numbers ("everything is number"). Since they control structure of the system of tones and rhythms, their understanding offers a key to understanding entire spiritual and physical world. That means that we need to discover numbers in things in order to understand the world around us. As soon as we do, we have reached power over the world.
Pythagoras discovered famous geometrical theorem that states that in the right-angled triangle the area of the square on the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares of the other two sides. His discovery that the Earth is spherical is just as important, but he nevertheless did not manage to discover the heliocentric system. This discovery is ascribed to Aristarchus of Samos (310-239 BC). This does not reduce his geniality as a pioneer of mathematics and exact research in physics and creator of one of the most original philosophical-scientific systems which laid the foundations of the Greek scientific thought and western science. Owing to him, Greek philosophy is as old as the rational science in which mathematics takes a crucial place.
Pythagoras was the first to exhibit interest in mathematics out of pure love for knowledge, not in an attempt to make use of it. Egyptians had certain mathematical knowledge but only to the extent to allow them to build pyramids and temples or measure their fields. The situation was similar with other nations. In philosophy he turned attention from matter to form and in anticipation of modern physics he tried to explain nature with mathematical principles. Due to misunderstandings which he encountered in Crotone he moved to Metaponte where he stayed until death. AIThough his school promoted certain religious views based on metaphysics of a number in line with Greek religion (orphic concepts of afterlife, randomness of existence, necessity of escaping the social position determined by birth etc.), it incited scientific and particularly mathematical revolution.
It is quite natural that philosophical questions are born on the edge of scientific research. From this period arithmetic and geometry under influences of Pythagoreanism started to play irreplaceable role in Greek philosophy primarily because mathematics as opposed to philosophy was an exact science in which problems were posed in a clear and logical way and answers are clear and precise. Secondly mathematics as such started to serve as propaedeutics for the study of philosophy. Thirdly in mathematics there is a set procedure of proving, which is a great Greek invention. Fourthly, once correctly understood conclusions of mathematical proof eliminate any doubt. To put it simply, mathematics was the first and only science in the strict sense of the word. Other sciences in the strict sense of the word are sciences only if they come close to mathematics. Therefore it is not accidental that many great philosophers were excellent mathematicians.
It is surprising how many fundamental problems were noticed, solved or recognized by the Greek mathematicians in the 5th and 4th centuries BC AIThough they had very modest scientific instruments, all the more as it was not imposed by everyday life. Most problems they encountered were theoretical and their solution was an expression of pure pursuit for scientific truth lacking any practical use and ideal of knowledge for knowledge's sake. While "practical mathematics" in other nations (Egyptians, Babylonians etc.) was aimed at solving specific problems and as such necessarily approximate, Greeks looked for precise solutions which could only be provided by scientific mathematics based on logical thought and rational explanation. This scientific seal was printed on mathematics once and for all making it only exact science in the strict sense of the word.
1.4 Athens--Major Intellectual City in Greece
Athens is believed to be the cradle of Greek scientific and philosophic thought as it paid more attention to schooling than any other city-state (polis) making foundations for entire later school education. Schools are mentioned here as early as the 7th century. But until the 5th century most children obtained only education they could get at home. Athenians were the first to replace warriors' way of life with culture in the strict sense of the word. In their city-state from the earliest time there was a kind of obligatory education existed which included studying arithmetics, geometry, astronomy, grammar and music as introduction to philosophy which was a synthesis of all mentioned disciplines which was crucial for progress of the entire state.
But it was only with Plato (427-347) that schooling developed as never before. As one of the greatest mind ever and disciple of Socrates who proclaimed knowledge as virtue, he emphasized need of founding schools more than anyone else. "If Athens has poor shoe-makers, its citizens will walk bare-foot. It Athens has poor teachers, there will be no Athens." Consistent to this belief he founded a philosophical school in Athens or an educated society which was called Academy after the Athenian hero Akademos. It was the first and one of best organized schools in history of European civilization. Impressed with extratemporal world of mathematics discovered by Pythagoreans he applied his rules to ethical and physical field. After the model of traditional subjects of Pythagorean schools, lectures were not limited to philosophy but they also included arithmetics, planimetry, trigonometry, astronomy and music offering its students almost entire knowledge at the time. Particular attention was paid to mathematics due to strong influences of Pythagorean heritage. Original aim of schooling in the Academy was philosophical-scientific education. Although Plato aimed at education of statesmen and public employees, his method did not consist of teaching some disciplines which had some immediate and practical use such as teaching rhetorics but in inciting of indifferent dealing with science. Mathematics played crucial role in this process. He was impressed by extratemporal world of mathematics discovered by the Pythagoreans so he applied rules of this world on ethical and physical fields of human life. Mathematics was a science directed at extra-sensory phenomena and achieving universal and eternal truth which incited him to attempt to discover the essence of actual structure of mathematical science. This is something more than regular "philosophy of mathematics" which attempts to determine general terms of this scientific discipline. Peak of education was in philosophy and alienating disciples from variability of manifestational world and their directing to the unchangeable and important hiding behind, to the essence, and understanding general data and regularities, training for critical and rational thinking and understanding so that people may learn how to think critically by using their reason.
Plato was not satisfied with teaching only but he also studied science of numbers which were a part of arithmetics. On the basis of heritage of the philosopher and mathematician Hippias of Elis (5th century BC) he ascribed important educational role to mathematics. Nobody sould ignore mathematics if he aims at being considered a man and not "a pig for fattening". He mentions this role of mathematics in his works repeatedly. Allegedly he even put a sign at the entrance of the Academy: "Let no-one ignorant of geometry enter here!". Interest for mathematics should be evoked through games with the children at the earliest age as mathematics is an important component of everyday life so he introduced it into every day life, after the Egyptian model, particularly in crafts, trade, military skills, agriculture, navigation etc. These first mathematical notions as practical as they may be were supposed to serve as an introduction into a much deeper comprehension of the world. He paid just as much attention to applied geometry in calculating superficies, length and capacity of a certain body, and in astronomy he studied way of making calendar. No other discipline could be compared with it. Its role was to awaken the spirit in order to obtain easiness of thinking and concluding. In that way he introduced study of mathematics as an unavoidable school subject from the earliest age to maturity.
Not everyone could reach this level. Most talented disciples should be recognized and supported which meant introduction of selection of the able and less able which remained basis of all later exams and contests, including the modern ones. Mathematics was the best discipline to select the ablest and to develop natural abilities in order to become philosophers one day. It will lead to selection of future philosophers, it will form and prepare them for future tasks which was an important factor of its "educational preparation". By studying mathematics pupils developed ability of deeper understanding of reality, memory and self-confidence not to be discouraged when they face difficulties in studying and understanding world around them.
Entire 7th book of his State deals with science. It starts with a myth about a cave: mathematics is a primary instrument of "converting" the soul, expression of inner need with which it awakens in real light and becomes able to consider not "shadows of real things" but "true reality". But there is long way to this point. Years of study and consideration are necessary for becoming a true philosopher (scholar). only after 30 years of study and consideration of mathematics one can reach such stage of mental and educational development. He has to give up sensitory instruments in order to reach truth of the Essence. Regardless of the fact that such individuals are extremey rare, only the persistent ones can come to understand fertile but dangerous art called dialectics. Such individuals needed five more years of study to come into possession of the only instrument leading to complete truth. But that was not the end of philosophic culture in the strict sense of the word. Apprentice had to face complicated city life for 15 more years in order to obtain additional experience, end his struggle with temptations and obtain moral education. Only at the age of fifty those who live to that age and overcome all difficulties can finally reach the aim: "contemplation of the Good in themselves". So it takes fifty years to become a "man"!
1.5 Plato and Isocrates Founders of Two Various School Systems
As opposed to Plato's ideally conceived moral and political-educational program, Isocrates (436-338 BC), a philosopher and one of the ten best orators in antiquity, offered much shorter and simpler program of school education. He was the Eye for 50 years (393-338), he had school of rhetorics in Athens which as opposed to Plato's Academy was open for everyone and it enjoyed great popularity. Education in it lasted for only 3-4 years and costed 1 000 drachmas. About 100 disciples from all regions of Greece attended the school. Rhetorics with him became means of action, particularly political action which is used by a thinker to present his opinion and to affect the public. Through this kind of public performance rhetorics got new meaning which will be particularly pronounced in the Hellenistic and Roman period and which affected forming of the study significantly.
Isocrates introduced into rhetorics many elements which were characteristic of writers, taking care of their practical efficiency. Good orator had to know how to speak well, correctly and convincingly which is why he had to master the technique of discussing and persuading. He raised a fair number of his pupils in this spirit. While Plato's upbringing was based on emphasizing the importance of truth, Isocrates based it on strength, i.e. convincingness of his words. A word distinguishes a man from an animal and it was a prerequisite of any kind of progress in legal, artistic or everyday field enabling man to realize justice, and promote civilization or culture.
Philosophical science according to Plato had no practical purpose. It may have had one if there was an ideal state. Since there is no such state, philosopher is forced to deal with himself, non-existant world and imaginary problems. As opposed to Plato, Isocrates was much more specific and practical. Learned man is someone who can propose good solution of a specific problem. Rhetorics was a general educational discipline which contained not only theory of speech and style but also basics of moral, philosophy and statesmanship necessary for successful life in a state community. In Isocrates' school subjects later called grammar and philology were taught as a basis of rhetorics and everything necessary for an orator as a writer and politician in order to learn how to speak eloquently and convincingly: philosophy, science and art and ability to use words smartly in solving practical problems, particularly in cases where the truth was not that obvious. His disciples as politicians, orators, lawyers, teachers in schools etc. had to learn how to write and hold speeches on all possible subjects and to get along in all social situations. Introduction of drawing and painting in the art education after Aristotle's advice was something new. Pupils mostly learnt how to draw human figure with charcoal. It seems it was not technical drawing but art of portrayal Man is the measure of all things. Therefore man was in the center of Greek thought.
Isocrates reduced judicial and political life to system which became dominant in Athens. All or almost all ancient culture will be inspired on this orator's ideal of eloquent and good speech. His program was much more modest than the Plato's but it was more practical and affordable which proved crucial for all later history of education. Plato's program was too complex and difficult in hardly achievable hope of reaching theoretical "perfect science" and it lasted infinitely which is why it had no relation with practical life.
1.6 Seven "Liberal Arts" as a Basis of Ancient Schooling
School program in Athens was not set but it varied from one teacher to another, from one school to another. Number of arts and sciences learnt in these schools gradually came to number seven: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. These were "seven liberal arts" (septem artes liberales). They were given this name as they were considered "worthy of a free man" as opposed to "mechanical" or "slave" ("unfree") activities performed by unfree, unnoble men or slaves.
Within seven liberal arts we can easily distinguish two different groups or more precisely two stages-"literary" or lower, called "trivium" in which basic literary education in grammar, rhetorics and logic was obtained. The other, higher or "scientific" stage which was later called "quadrivium" encompassed four numeral arts: arithmetics, geometry, astronomy and music (theory). Each of these disciplines introduced disciples into understanding of some individual or "small secret" of nature and society and they were all together considered as means for getting to know "the great secret" or philosophy in the strict sense of the word as "true wisdom". Arts were in other words considered as propaedeutics, basis or general cultural preparation for the study of philosophy which was considered as a synthesis of complete knowledge, an ideal to which all efforts of the human thought should aspire.
Original core of seven liberal arts is ascribed to the Greek scholar and philosopher Archytas from Taranto who was born around 440 BC. As an exceptionally intelligent and educated man he studied mathematics, astronomy, music, moral issues and politics. In time other scholars and philosophers introduced other disciplines into use. In that way probably Gorgias from Leontini introduced rhetorics, Aristotle dialectics and Dionysius of Thrace (ca. 100-ca. 30) grammar. He wrote a work entitled Grammatica (Grammar) after which he was called "Grammarian". They were given final form by the Roman philosopher Martianus Capella (Martianus Minneus Felix Capella) in the first half of the 5th century. His main work De nuptiis Mercurii et Filologiae (On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury) written around 420 was composed as a novel in which he offered systematic overview of all scientific disciplines of his time as the first of classical authors. He intended to present these arts to the readers in the most acceptable way in order to save them from neglect or oblivion. Therefore he wrote an allegoric story in the introduction of his work in which he combined prose and poetry presenting each of seven arts as servants of Mercury's fiancee called Philology.
These arts were basis of school lessons not only in ancient Greece but also in entire mentioned period, and later on. Their number was for a long time reduced to number seven AIThough often there were more. As the time passed and knowledge grew, their number increased and was enriched with new insights so that it is difficult to determine with certainty how many disciplines were studies and considered as a part of school education. Scientific disciplines expand with process of science progress which is neverending.
Title of "free" and "unfree" i.e. "slavish" arts may be surprising. Greek world was an urban world which had quite specific attitude towards manual work. Its ideals were seen in "noble" skills: war, politics, philosophy, literature etc, without paying attention to practical skills or works performed manually such as crafts, agriculture, fishing, shipbuilding or even architecture in perfect forms, painting, outstanding sculptures or famous pottery with painted vases in astonishing forms and elegance. AIThough these artistic works of eternal beauty evoke undivided admiration, none of these artistic or technical arts and sciences were included in the school program. These activities were performed by lower classes, artisans or gifted individuals whose work was appreciated, but it never led to foundation of some technical academy or school of applied arts. Plato (as most of the Greek philosophers) believed that idleness was crucial for obtaining wisdom which cannot be found in the individuals who have to earn their daily bread, but only in those financially independent or provided for by the state. Most of Plato's dialogues takes place in Pericles' time offering a pleasant image of life of the rich class. Plato belonged to an aristocratic Athenian family, and he grew in tradition of a period that preceded the time when war and democracy destroyed the wealth and safety of upper classes. His young men as aristocrats who did not need to work spent most of their free time dealing with science, mathematics and philosophy; they could recite Homer almost by heart and evaluate critically skills of the professional reciters. Aristotle's standpoint was similar. He never glorified work, nor did he recommend it as a way of attaining fortune. Purpose of work was to find free time. Physical works were performed by slaves and artisans (masons, carpenters, weavers, drapers, shavers, fishermen, merchants etc.) who learnt their crafts from their fathers. Since they performed them with traditional methods Greeks did not try to facilitate human work with invention of machines or use of energy for their starting. It was negative attitude towards work which was accepted by the Romans without resistance so that ancient world neglected the field of technology and mechanical inventions, with the exception of construction, in favor of works performed by "free people".
However the development of democracy and accordingly participation in public life of artisans, merchants, peasants etc. opposed to our expectations did not lead to better evaluation of physical work. Main representatives of cultural life were members of old aristocracy who continued to underestimate manual i.e. physical labor which deformed human body in their opinion, suppressed the spirit of generosity and subdued will. There were many Greeks who practised agriculture and craft but they contributed little to what was specific for the classical Greek culture.
This negative attitude towards physical work and "mechanical" arts was accepted by the Greeks from other nations with slave-holding social system, primarily neighbouring Phoenicians; Tyre, Sidon and Carthage depended on slaves for physical works at home, and they hired mercenaries for leading wars outside the country not to be dependant on the numerous village population which had the same blood and same political rights.
1.7 Schooling in the Period of Hellenism
This magnificent ascent of the Athenian culture was violently stopped with envy and constant conflicts with Sparta. After the golden age in the 5th century and frequent wars with Sparta and its allies for hegemony over Greece, Athens was gradually but constantly weakened in political, economic and military terms so that it was never renewed as it was after the wars with the Persians. But it was still powerful in the fields of philosophy and science as well as school education particularly in Hellenism when Alexander the Great (356-323) led the Greek world to counterattack against the Persian Empire as their centennial enemy. In only ten years (334-324 BC) of war it was defeated by small but well organized army of the young Macedonian king. But Alexander was not only a conqueror but also a colonizer. He founded cities acrosss the conquered territories which usually had his name and which were ruled in the Greek way. Settled Greek and Macedonian colonizers quickly merged with local population. Alexander incited his compatriots to marry local women giving them personal example. It was a political expression to the expansion of Greek spirit which became particularly evident in the second half of the 4th century. Aristotle was a typical representative of this time of changes, and Alexander was his disciple. Alexander's greatness as in all great men was not only in his organizational geniality but also in the fact that he appeared on the historical stage at "right time". In the world which was preparing for him unconsciously, his spectacular conquest marked emergence of a new type of international community which later led to much stabler and lasting state embodied in the Roman Empire. In that way Greek civilization ruled the entire Mediterranean and Middle East, and great kingdoms replaced small independent cities-states which got municipal character instead of political. On the other hand this contributed to spreading of Greek influence to the entire known world, and Greek culture assumed universal characterisics. Greek was spoken from Gibraltar to Ganges. Science, philosophy and art had great impact on the old civilizations of the East just as these civilizations influenced mentality and science of their conquerors. A kind of osmosis of mutual influences started which was useful for both sides.
But this medal also had other side: with loss of independence of the Greek cities-states specific Greek spirit was lost leading to impoverishment of not only political thought and mutual individualistic competition of Greek states but also weakening of stimuli for daring intellectial speculations and comprehensive theories about reality and universe. Hearth of the Hellenistic culture, particularly science and technology was no longer on the Greek soil but in Egypt where Alexander of Macedon founded first and most important city with his name (Alexandria) in winter of 332/331 BC some 14 km west of the mouth of one backwaters of the Nile into the Mediterranean where the city of Rhakotis used to be. Alexander died in 323 BC and his vast empire which spread from Egypt to India and borders of Pakistan did not outlive its founder for a long time. His generals divided the empire into several smaller but still powerful kingdoms after bloody wars.
Alexandria was particularly important when Alexander's general and heir Ptolemy I Soter (305-284 BC) made it a center of his state which encompassed Egypt, Cyrenaica, Palestine, southern Syria, Cyprus and some Aegean islands. It was a huge city, encircled with walls more then 18 km long, built after rules of Hellenistic city planning. Situated opposite the islet of Pharos, on approximately identical distances from Greece and Asia Minor, Alexandria soon became main merchant intermediate between the West and cultural centers of Babylon and Persia. Therefore Sostratus of Cnidus built a large lighthouse around 280 BC on the islet of Pharos in front of the port. The Greeks considered it one of the seven world wonders. It was about 135 m high, open flame at its top indicated way to the port to ships which could be at the distance of 50 km. Alongside political and merchant importance of the city its cultural role also grew. Cultural influences from Greece, Egypt, Israel, Near East, Rome and other regions met and mixed here.
Following Alexander's Hellenistic ideas about multiculturality and wish to connect the Greek world with the East, Ptolemy I opened a Museum (Museion) in 290 BC in the complex of his court which encompassed one third of the city. Museum was a temple of muses and center of cultural, artistic and intellectual activity where emphasis was on research and patient collecting of facts. Museum was a kind of high school which could be compared to modern universities. All this attracted great number of experts and scientists from all fields: geometers, astronomers, physicians, historians, writers, grammarians etc. They all lived and worked in the Museum funded by the state. Royal officials took care of their material needs so they could concentrate on their scientific work. Within the Museum was the famous library, unrivaled in the ancient world. It contained research laboratories, astronomic observatory, classrooms, botanical and zoological garden and everything necessary for research work and intellectual activities in general. Owing to these advantages the Museum became a cultural center of not only Greek but also entire Hellenistic world, rival of Athens, Antiochia and Rome. Ptolemy I addressed all rulers of his time requesting to send him copies of all books and documents which they had in their archives. Well equipped scriptorium worked in the library. In that way many works of older writers were copied on papyrus and preserved, knowledge from the Mesopotamian archives was transferred, Egyptian and Jewish texts were translated. The library became the greatest, richest and most famous library of the Hellenistic period. At the end of Ptolemy's life it had almost 200 000 volumes, and in the Roman period about 700 000. This unique and magnificent monument of ancient science and culture was damaged heavily in fire when the legions of Julius Caesar in 47 BC conquered the city. There were many famous scholars who worked in Alexandria. They lived in a luxurious palace with porches and gardens and were paid with state money. Their duty was to teach, research and write.
In the Hellenistic period schools were founded differing in program and stages. Program of "junior grammar school" consisted of a series of literary compositions after a plan from previous period which remained unchanged. Compositions were made after a strict scheme. No originality was welcomed, only correctness with regard to chosen pattern. Other disciplines were taught as well.
Geometry lectures consisted of a series of interrelated examples. Particular attention was paid to problem of construction on the basis of purely rational and theoretical plan. Practical application, calculating superficies and perimeter was taught later on.
The same was valid for arithmetics. Greek numeral system was very complex and difficult particularly when dealing with large numbers and it did not allow calculating with irrational numbers and fractions.
Theory of music was based on learning intervals and rhythms. Personal impression was important.
Astronomy was considered as an important subject but it was related with astrology. It was not taught from the manuals based on mathematics but on the basis of the epic poem "Phaenomena" (Fainomena), by the Greek didactic poet and astronomer Aratus (ca. 310-245) written in 275 BC after the model of Plato's disciple, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher Eudoxus of Cnidus (ca. 409-ca. 356). This work had no numeral data and quite general technical data. Instead of that it was full of large descriptions of star "figures" related with famous persons and mythology from which these persons originated. Epic poem was read at school not by some expert in astronomy but "grammaticos" who offered purely literary interpretation. Nevertheless it was very popular in antiquity so that Cicero translated it into Latin in verses.
In other words more attention was paid to literature than to mathematics. Process of its depreciating continued. It was praised but it was never taught as a serious school subject.
Higher degree which could presently be called university degree started after becoming of age, with 18 years. It was divided in four directions: "ephebian", rhetoric, philosophic and higher education or "scientific".
a) "Ephebian" stage was intended for the young men who became of age. It lasted for two years. An 18-year-old would spend the first year in the army barracks where he obtained physical and army education after taking an oath. On the second year they did practical military exercises, and ephebes (young men of age) were assigned to military frontier garrisons. After the Hellenistic period ephebia lost characteristics of an educational public-military institution and turned into a higher institution of physical education of not only Athenian aristocratic youth but also youth from entire Greece, Asia and later Rome. In time it turned into a separate study in which grammarians, philosophers and rhetors, sometimes and mathematicians held specialized lectures and conferences. We can state with certainty that ephebia existed in about hundred Hellenistic cities. In the 3rd century it disappeared as an institution.
b) Rhetoric direction consisted of theoretical part in which following aspects were taught: technique of including certain ideas in speech (inventio), way of presenting ideas (dispositio), advice for selection of the most suitable style in order to achieve certain effect (elocutio), manner of memorizing chosen texts necessary for success of the speech (mnemotechnica) and way of modulating voice and gestures. Practical part dealt with study of models (best speeches of classical orators) and composing disciple's own speeches after this model. Themes of speeches were usually related with political or private life, and sometimes they were purely fictional.
c) Philosophic or scientific direction mostly referred to the study of philosophy. Certain philosophical directions had their own schools organized as fraternities most famous being Platonic, Aristotle's, Stoic and Epicurean. There were also private teachers of philosophy, and travelling ones who travelled from one city to another to express their philosophies publicly at squares. Cynics were most famous. Some of these philosophical directions did not imply deep and complete education, and other demanded it as necessary prerequisite. Platonic direction demanded knowledge of mathematics. Then general terms of certain philosophical direction were taught, chosen texts were read and discussed. Finally teacher would present his own ideas at public meetings open to everyone or at lectures for school attendants. Philosophical lectures mostly encompassed logic, physics and ethics. In time ethics became the most important or even exclusive subject of lectures.
In this period there were no regular schools for professional training for a certain profession. Lawyers, engineers, sailors who played an important role in society obtained knowledge and practice with some older professionals.
The only difference was medicine which was an object of special interest from the 6th century to late Greek and Roman antiquity. AIThough its creation was related with the cult of the god Asclepius, it reached high level of rationalism and experimental study as early as the time of Hippocrates of Kos (ca. 460-377). Philosopher and physician Alcmaeon, disciple of Pythagoras (6th-5th centuries BC), Aristotle and some others did dissections. Fact that some of Greek state-cities in the 4th and 3rd centuries had well organized public health service in which physicians worked for free testifies to the fact that the Greeks were very progressive in this aspect. After Hippocrates medical school started to appear. Their achievements were presented and systematized by Aelius Galenus from Pergamon (129-200 AD), greatest medical expert of the Roman period whose theories had significant influence on western medicine for more than a thousand years. His description of medicinal anatomy was based on dissecting animals, and description of function of heart, arteries and veins was accepted until the 17th century when William Harvey (1578-1657) studied bloodstream more thoroughly concluding that heart was a pump and not center of emotions.
1.8 Alexandria takes over Role of Athens
one of the most respected scholars related with Alexandria was the mathematician Euclid (330-275 BC). He was a founder of the School of Mathematics in the Museum. He used a small number of axioms to write the capital work "Elements", the oldest and most famous mathematical work which has been preserved. Since it is too systematic and perfect we can conclude it was systematization of works of previous mathematicians whose names we do not know. It consists of 15 books and it is one of the greatest monuments of Greek science. It contains planimetry, arithmetics, geometry and stereometry. It is a synthesis of all mathematical knowledge of ancient Greece until Euclid's time and one of the most influential works in history of mathematics which earned its creator the title "father of geometry". It was used as a main textbook for studying mathematics, particularly geometry. The Greeks exhibited particular affection for arithmetics and geometry. Since their view of the world was visual, their main scientific achievements were reflected in geometry. They viewed numbers as forms (therefore we speak of square and cubic numbers) so they solved arithmetic problems with geometric procedures. Some of them such as Euclid's Elements written about the year 300 BC are still a basis of initial teaching in modern schools.
One of the first head librarians of the library in Alexandria was the mathematician, travel writer, philologist and astronomer Eratosthenes of Cyrene (276-194 BC), author of numerous works from various scientific fields: geography, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, literature and ethics. He is considered as the "father" of geography. He was famous for quite precise measuring of Earth's perimeter which differed from the actual one for only 80 km. He proved that the Earth could be circumnavigated and made a map of the Earth on the basis of his ideas with seven meridians and parallels. He also determined almost precisely inclination of the ecliptic towards equator, length of a day and duration of a year.
Astronomer and mathematician Aristarchus of Samos (ca. 310-ca. 250 BC) was the head librarian and educator of young Ptolemies. According to the present-day knowledge he was the first astronomer to promote heliocentric system after Heraklides of Pontus came to consclusion that the Earth rotates on its axis. His thesis was not supported by his contemporaries so we had to wait for Copernicus to prove it mathematically. On the basis of his observations he defined relative distances of the Moon and Sun from Earth. He explained fixed distibution of stars with their great distance.
Archimedes (287-212 BC) was probably the most famous mathematician, physician and constructor of antiquity. He was educated in Alexandria with Euclid where he became famous due to his scientific discoveries and soil improvement of the Nile swamps. After moving to Syracuse on Sicily he deAIT with almost all questions related to mathematics and physics. He is considered as the founder of hydrostatics. According to tradition he had many inventions in the technical field: Archimedean screw, Archimedes' pulley, some military devices and spiral pump. He constructed a planetarium, defined a principle which was named after him ("Any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object."). He wrote many works such as On the Sphere and the Cylinder, On Conoids and Spheroids, On Floating Bodies, On the Equilibrium of Planes by which he promoted mathematical science more than anyone else in antiquity.
Alongside studying purely theoretical problems, natural phenomena and collecting theoretical information, in the period of Hellenism significant progress was made in production of mechanical devices and machines AIThough they were rarely used to improve life conditions. These machines worked on the basis of sucking and spreading warm air. Alexandrian inventor and mathematician Ktesibios (285-222) wrote discussions about compressed air and its use for suction-pipes and pumps by inventing hydraulic device which is considered as a predecessor of hydraulic organ. He described suction-pipes including firefighting machines which created stream of water or lifted water from a well. He is known as father of pneumatics. His invention was also clepsydra--a water clock which was used until the 17th century when a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and physicist Christian Huygens (1629-1695) constructed mechanical clock with a pendulum. Another mathematician and engineer from Alexandria, Heron from the 1st century AD descibed a device working on the principle of jet propulsion. Many other inventions are ascribed to him, including "Heron's fountain". He wrote treaties from the fields of mathematics and mechanics, and he also contributed to the development of science on heat.
Claudius Ptolemy (ca. 85-ca.165) was a physician, astronomer, geographer and musician who worked in Alexandria between the years 140 and 160. He is the author of several important works. In his work Mathematical Treatise known as Almagest (after the Arabic translation in which it was preserved) he systematically presented his vision of the universe as a geocentric system. AIThough his view was based on the incorrect hypothesis that the Sun, planets and stars rotate around the Earth as a fixed center of the universe, his interpretation was in accordance with observing the orbits of planets so that it was maintained until the 16th century. He improved mathematical theory of movement of the Moon, Sun and planets, he derived theory of sun eclipses and presented new geometric proofs and theorems. His contribution to geographical science and cartographic understanding of ancient world is particularly great. He calculated the size of the Earth and described its surface. He used longitude and latitude for locating certain points.
1.9 Characteristics of Greek Humanism
The Greeks possessed impressive practical knowledge from various scientific disciplines particularly mathematics, they could build magnificent temples, fortified cities and objects like the Alexandrian lighthouse, fast and powerful ships with several rows of oars which were unrivaled in te Mediterranean. In art, particularly sculpture and pottery they reached the peak which demanded knowledge of perfect technique. Despite all these facts they paid little attention to technics or mechanics and never came to idea to include into school program disciplines and arts such as architecture, sculpture, painting, shipbuilding, navigation, geodesy etc. which may have been very useful. There are many reasons for this paradox. Some of hem have already been mentioned. It seems that roots of such standpoint were in too strong authority of two scholars and philosophers: Pythagoras and Plato. Their interest in science and study of nature was motivated more with pure love for theoretical truth and beauty than with wish for its practical application. Isocrates supported the same mentality when he put emphasis of his educational system on humanistic subjects, and much less on mathematics. Their philosophers gave humanistic mark to the entire Greek culture. From that period educated man was not a builder of magnificent temples or a sculptor who carved sculptures with a chisel and hammer giving them the spirit of eternal beauty, but the one who learnt Iliad and Oddysey by heart identifying himself with their heroes or telling invented stories about love affairs of the Greek gods.
The Greeks could not learn technical arts at school but only with some private teacher or from their own experiences. We must not forget that there were few prominent individuals who promoted technical arts which enabled progress that humanity owes to this heroic period of history. Let us only remember Archimedes and his machines and mirrors that he made in Syracuse according to a legend with which he could burn enemy's ships at a considerable distance according to a legend. Their knowledge of technology is best illustrated by a shipwreck from the 1st century BC in which an outstanding instrument was found testifying to exceptional development of their science and technology: one axis moved more than twenty small wheels and cogwheels which indicated with needles position of the Sun, Moon and planets which testifies to outstanding technical-scientific achievements at the time.
However the fact is that magnificent classical Greek civilization to which the world owes so much was more humanistic in its essence i.e. aesthetic, artistic and literary than technical i.e. scientific. Historian Xenophon (430/425-355) realized that technical arts in the Greek cities were not only poorly appreciated but even despised in some communities. Various factors contributed to this so that and even the most distinguished scholars such as Aristotle. AIThough he was one of the greatest scholars of his time, excellent expert in biology and zoology who even made experiments and dissected animals in order to see how organisms function expressing impressive broadness of his genius, in one field he was not at the expected level. He believed his colleague at the Plato's Academy mathematician and astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus (408-355) who developed theory of concentric planetary spheres with various direction of movements of planets among which Earth took the central position. This system was finalized by the previously mentioned Claudius Ptolemy making an incorrect conclusion about geocentric system. Evidently not even the best experts are immune to mistakes!
Essence of classical Greek humanism consisted of raising educated and responsible member of the community; man and not technician in moder sense of the word; man who is free, rich and educated; aristocrat with refined taste; man who was left to his own devices by fate and gods so that he attempts to grasp something certain in his life as opposed to a world without borders and under the empty sky; man who relies on himself in this mysterious and uncertain world.
Ideal of Greek humanism was formulated by the sophist Protagoras from Abdera (491/481-411 BC) who is called the "teacher of virtues" by Plato: "Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not". What is not suitable for a man cannot be truthful. Man must not take things for granted but he has to doubt and question everything, explore in order to obtain most complete comprehension of the world around him. Alongside culture of spirit he has to nurture culture of the body which implies exercising certain sports. These two components of the human being had to be in balance of intellectual i.e. spiritual capacities and physical abilities: "a healthy mind in a healthy body". Final aim of this ideal was upbringing of a complete human character, constant discovering of what is considered the greatest good for a man, what can give sense and value to a human life and what most people appreciate most. These aspirations make a man want knowledge, make him search for the truth. Truth, beauty and moral kindness are greatest human virtues. It was what the Greeks wanted to achieve and their philosophers helped them in finding answers. "Discovery of a man" was one of their greatest discoveries. They were never bothered with material side of life particularly with what we call economy which was something related to good managing of family economy for them and other philosophers until the 18th century. AIThough they did not refrain from wealth they did not run after it. Therefore they raised their eyebrows at chasing wealth for wealth.
1.10 Rome as a Military Master and Cultural Disciple of Greece
In the period when Sparta, Athens and other Greek cities-states were in zenith of their political power and cultural ascent, Rome was a rural settlement which gradually grew on moderately steep slopes of the Palatine hill in central Latium without any indications that it may become not only ruler of the Apennine Peninsula but of the entire known world. Its transformation into a city and spectacular expansion was the result of exceptional military organization and politically genial idea of including defeated populations into their state. One of the secrets of their success was raising forts (colonies) in conquered regions in which they settled their citizens. After they became masters of the Apennine Peninsula three wars with the Carthaginians followed (in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC) in which they conquered not only Carthage but also the entire Mediterranean and Near East coming in that way in contact with many nations and cultures including the Greeks to which they gave much and from which they learnt much.
As opposed to the Greeks as pronounced individuals and people prefering speculative thinking, the Romans were too inclined to sacrifice individuality for the sake of collectiveness and they were much more practical in their lives. This opposite does not come out only from different characters but also from different roads these nations underwent in their development. What is usually called "Roman virtue" is nothing else but old ethics of a city whose inhabitants believed in strength of unity. Rome always cherished ideal of unitary state to which interests of the citizens must be subjected. Rome never renounced this ideal even in the period of highest state ascent when there were no outer dangers. It is sufficient to remeber Augustus' efforts to restitute old moral when Horace after the model of the old Spartans said: "It is sweet and right to die for one's homeland."
Roman upbinging was based on values of rural society and not ideals of Greek knightly upbringing. At the end of the 6th century Roman culture was a culture of rural aristocracy, culture of rich land-owners occupied with agriculture, society different from Homer's warrior aristocracy.
A young Roman was first raised in his family where mother played an important role. At the age of 7 father took over upbringing until boy's 16th birthday when he put aside a toga lined with purple and dressed white toga of an adult. Some dignified friend of the family was entrusted with his education at that period who taught him things from public life for a year. Then he went to the army following directions of some mature politician as a regular soldier and was subjected to strict military discipline. Young soldier had to learn how to use all kinds of weapons, how to fight with weapons and bare hands (boxing and martial arts), to adjust to all hardships of his profession, to endure most demanding physical efforts, be able to swim in a fast and cold river in harsh winter conditions and all other skills that may be useful in cruel military life. As opposed to the Greeks, Romans did not exercise sports. They practiced various games in order strengthen their muscles and improve physical resilience. Instead of sport competitions Roman soldier went to circus and amphitheater where he practiced riding and martial arts. Sons of peasants continued service as regular soldiers and noblemen's sons went to officers' class in which they could advance in career. Throughout all this time he was taught traditional Roman ethics which was supposed to last throughout his life, particularly love for homeland for which he had to be prepared to die.
In Rome upbringing was different from the Greek one at the beginning. But in time it developed in quite different direction. Rome was forced to accept forms and methods of Greek upbringing. This happened after conquest of Magna Graecia on the Apennine Peninsula, Punic wars and unstoppable spreading over the Mediterranean. The Romans were superior military power, but they were inferior culturally. After the victory over the Achaean League in 146 BC entire Balkanic Greece was joined with the province of Macedonia.
Conquest of Magna Graecia in southern Italy, and then Greece by Alexander's heirs after the victory over the Achaean League in 146 BC and its annexation with the province of Macedonia was crucial in the later Roman and Greek history. It had surprising political and cultural consequences for the Greeks and Romans: military winners soon became cultural losers, and defeated Greeks (in military terms) became cultural winners over Rome. In that way they were both winners and losers at the same time. Understandably this situation had advantages and disadvantages for both. Many educated Greeks started to arrive to Rome as a consequence of occupation of Greece, mostly as slaves who transferred their centennial culture and knowledge to new masters and their children. E.g. Roman Empire in Augustus' period had about a million inhabitants in the city of Rome and in other parts of Italy about 13 million. At least 4 million of them were slaves. It is understandable that an ancient Roman as well as an average Greek did not sweat and practice physical work but he could be involved in war, politics and leisure. "God has given us this leisure" (Virgil). There were the ones who condemned this fatal practice. "Leisure without intellectual work is death and grave of every living man (Seneca). But such wise men were not respected by the others. If the Roman spirit proved to be superior in comparison with the Greek spirit regarding war skills, state administration, building, law etc., in many other fields it was just the opposite. Soldiers, officers and magistrates quickly accepted customs of the conquered regions. Romans encountered Greek culture for the first time during the Second Punic War (218-202 BC) when in 211 BC general M. Claudius Marcellus brought many works of art from conquered Syracuse as war booty. These works aroused great interest of the Roman population. This proved to have greatest cultural importance for future. Sparkle of interest in art which was awakened then ensured survival of the Greek art after the subsequent Greek catastrophe. Furthermore it was nurtured in the Roman Empire so that it could influence later European culture. "During the Second Punic War muse joined wild warlike Romulus' genus." (Portius Licinius).
The Romans evidently possessed strong affinity for cultural values alongside their affinity for wars and conquests. This affinity is not immanent to distinctly warlike nations. Not only works of art started coming from conquered Greece in great quantities but also new ideas, feelings, aspirations embodied in Greek artists and educated men who were about to work in Rome and for Rome.
Interest in Greek culture grew in Rome particulary after the consul Lucius Aemilius Paulus from Pella, the capital of the Macedonian kingdom transferred the library of the Macedonian monarchs in 168 BC. General Lucius Cornelius Sulla (13878) confiscated Aristotle's library and moved it to Rome and Lucius Licinius Lucullus brought equally important Mithridates' library from Pontus in 71. It is believed that over 25 libraries existed in the city in the first two centuries of the Empire. Lively trade with books developed, and rich collectors searched rare specimens of certain works to put them in their often luxurious libraries. Books for sale were made in a way that a text was dictated to a large number of slaves. Only in the mid-1st century AD leaves of parchment were used as predecessors of present-day books. In that way something unimaginable happpened: Greece which was conquered military, conquered Rome culturally. Educated Romans were aware of that. "Conquered Greece conquered wild winner and introduced art into rural Latium" (Horace).
This "flood" of cultural wealth and educated people gave a strong stimulus for the Romans to develop their own talents in various fields which enabled their civilization to start turning from military civilization to the one of high culture in all fields. In that way cultural "colonization" of Rome started.
But Romans proved to be not only excellent soldiers but also good pupils. As bright and pragmatic people they learnt quickly from their Greek teachers. Their conquest of Greece was a strong stimulus for developing their own talents in various fields which enabled their civilization to start transforming from a warriors' civilization to the one of high culture in almost all fields. In that way cultural "colonization" of Rome started. Learning Greek language became quite common. Rich Roman families were willing to pay for lessons in Greek for their children. It was difficult to find a dignified Roman aristocrat who did not speak Greek. Greek became "lingua franca" among various nations i.e. diplomatic language, but also the language of Roman enemies who were about to become their eastern subjects.
However it would be incorrect to say that the Romans only took material things from the Greeks. They were able to develop, transform and improve many things which is particularly evident in art and architecture. on the Athenian Acropolis in the 5th century BC the Greeks said everything there was about architecture: in Doric Parthenon, Ionic Erechtheion and Doric and Ionic Propylaea. However even if this is undoubtedly matchless master-piece of classical Greek architecture whose outer side is decorated with a series of heroic immaculately carved figures, art historians cannot agree as to extent of particular inner life of the object and its decorations and intensity of emotions transferred on the observer which may be expected from such a work.
The Romans as opposed to the Greeks paid much more attention to importance of interior design of their temples which was in accordance with their understanding of religious art and relation with the individual as a person. New building technique was particularly helpful in that, use of arch which they took from the Etruscans and building material (marble, brick and a kind of concrete which was made from lime, volcanic ash, sand and brick) which revolutionized their architecture so that in the period of the emperor Augustus their construction blossomed. This is evident from solid and well arranged cities with rational plan and well projected drainage system, spatious and beautiful squares, triumphal arches, temples, basilicae, conference halls, theatres, public baths, roads, bridges, palaces, houses, multistoried water supply systems which brought water to the cities from large distances etc. Their builders had to find solution which surpassed everything known until that point. Their miraculous objects belong to greatest architectural achievements of humanity with their size, solidity and beauty.
Main promoters of architecture were the emperors who gave new meaning and expression of personal aspirations to architecture: to show and represent the strength of the Empire. The oldest preserved large monument is Pantheon which was built between 27 and 25 BC by general and Augustus' friend Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and it was reconstructed by Hadrian (120-124). It was conceived as an interior dedicated to planetary deities. It has massive walls supported with huge marble columns which taper towards the top carrying a magnificent dome whose height is equal to diameter (43, 30 m) with a 9 m wide round opening at the top. It is the most impressive object from antiquity which was preserved and it belongs to the most magnificent master-pieces of human spirit.
Before the end of the 1st century, more precisely in the year 72 Emperor Vespasian started building Colosseum, oval arena with three rows of arches, fourth upper storey and vertical rows of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns of the largest extant object of the imperial Rome with impressive dimensions: 157 x 188 m which could accommodate over 45.000 spectators. Roman builders had to overcome a series of structural problems of such huge building. Five centuries after Parthenon architecture saw its inner and outer transformation: exterior became interior i.e. outer side became inner.
Human spirit underwent similar transformation. Art, politics, philosophy and religion changed image of a man and outer world which was no longer sum of unrelated phenomena with many scattered and fighting cities-states. It became an organically related whole with well arranged and efficient state administration at whose head was the emperor with unlimited power. Symbol of the new world was Pantheon which represents Rome in art as Parthenon represented Greece. "My intention was that this sanctuary of all gods should be image of the Earth and heaven on which seeds of eternal flame stand containing everything", said Hadrian about his Pantheon.
What is perhaps most interesting in this spectacular development is the fact that all this development would be impossible without understanding higher mathematics. There were no mathematical schools or interest in mathematics in Rome. Romans were aware of this. Learned Cicero wrote: "Mathematics was esteemed most highly by the Greeks and therefore no-one was more famous than the mathematicians. But we have limited use of this art to calculating and measuring." This measuring also referred to time. The Romans made a very precise calendar which remained in use essentially until present day (Julian calendar), they determined duration of months, division of the day to two parts, etc.
Development of Latin language represents a special chapter in the Roman history. Parallelly with learning Greek Romans perfected their language. Latin writers perfected their language of peasants and soldiers and made it suitable for expressing the most complex literary or philosophical thought easily and logically. There were excellent satirists, comedians and prosaists. Virgil looked up to Homer, Seneca to Euripides, Plautus and Terrencius to Menander etc. It was similar in other fields: painting, sculpture, technique, architecture.
Perhaps the greatest contribution which conquered Greece gave to its political masters, and later to the entire west was belief in reason and importance of art, literature, science and schooling. This helped Latin culture to rise to unimaginable heights for "rural Latium" and to reach artistic heights of universal value.
First schools in Rome started to appear in the 6th century BC under influence of conquered Etruscans which accepted it from the Greeks just like alphabet. But with spreading of the Roman state across the Mediterranean Greek influence strengthened at the expense of the Etruscan influence. While Roman aristocracy raised their children in Greek spirit making "learned Greeks" of them it simutaneously accepted Greek schooling system in which identical or almost identical subjects were taught as once in Athens only in Latin.
In the mid-3rd century schools were founded in which Greek teachers taught Roman children about the Greek writers, particularly Homer. This would not be possible if Roman literature had not already existed. Roman patriotism would not allow such Greek influence without teaching Roman literature. First Greek professor of Latin literature in Rome was Livius Andronicus from Taranto (ca. 280-200) who translated Oddysey to Latin for the needs of his pupils and some other works of Greek classics. A hundred years later another Greek, Quintus Ennius (239-169) poet and dramaturgist considered as the "father of Latin literature" introduced in program of these schools classical Latin writers.
School program of the Roman schools used established system of trivium and quadrivium: grammar, rhetorics, dialectics, arithmetics, geometry, astronomy and music which remained as a basis of school program throughout the Middle Ages. However school program was not set and unchangeable but it was altered and supplemented depending on the context and circumstances. Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC) who was educated in Greece from 84 to 82 BC as many other Roman young men attending the lectures of the academician Philo of Larissa and Antiochus from Gaza, is the author of more than 70 works of various contents. He learned several scientific disciplines: grammar, history, geography, law, rhetorics, philosophy, astronomy, pedagogy, medicine and architecture. He wrote work De lingua latina (Latin language), the oldest grammar in Latin, in which he paid special attention to the study of language in two phases: studying poets, historians and orators and their works (ars disserendi) and eloquence (ars loquendi). The aim of this cognition was mathematics, music and astrology, while medicine and architecture belonged to practical knowledge
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (ca. 80-79 BC-ca.15 AD) writer, architect and engineer went one step further. He became famous particularly owing to the work "De architectural (On architecture) in ten volumes written in 23 BC and dedicated to the Emperor Augustus who promoted complete renewal of Rome after the civil war. This work is the only and as such most important complete text on architecture from antiquity. It had immense influence on all later western architecture in technical and architectural terms. His aim was to educate able architects. Presently we cannot know if he was successful in his intentions.
As opposed to Vitruvius Marcus Tulis Cicero(106-43) insisted on learning oratory. In the period when education and public life were impregnated with oratory learned from Greek teachers, he believed that an orator was most apt to teach and discuss public problems. However in order to speak publicly he haf to master complex technique of this art, and be broadly educated and full of virtues. This was particularly valid for politicians and lawyers which had to know well subject they were discussing. Need to satisfy both demands made Cicero claim that eloquent man can learn fast and well anything even better than professional orators. Therefore it is necessary that an orator makes an additional effort and obtain general culture in addition to the one provided by seven liberal arts. He had to know law, philosophy, dialectics and manners, history, belles-lettres etc. In brief he had to obtain erudition characteristic of an educated man. This flexible understanding of liberal arts and education which could easily be changed and adapted to various needs will become main characteristic of western European culture of the Middle Ages.
Whatever Cicero asked from others, he realized it himself. Owing to oratorical talent and thorough education he mastered all skills which is why he could speak very convincingly in the Senate, courtrooms, public assemblies etc. He could speak with the finest words and use most convincing arguments with which he laid foundations of later oratory and oratorical prose. On the basis of his preserved speeches it is clear why he was considered as the greatest orator in history alongside Demosthenes.
AIThough rhetorics in Roman schools was at a high level, quality of classes reached level of Greek schools only in Augustus' period. Around 26 BC Q. Cecilius Epirotes introduced in schools commenting important Latin poets such as Publius Vergilius Maro (70-19), Horatius Flaccus (65-8) and some others. From that time school system did not change much. An educated Roman who knew Virgil was estemeed just as some Greek who knew Homer.
In Rome as well is in regions with dominant Greek influence there was three-stage school system with corresponding three types of schools. We could call them conditionally elementary and high schools and higher education institutions.
First-stage ("elementary") schools were managed by teachers called litteratores, primi magistri, magistri scholae, magistri ludi, magistri ludi litterarii and padogogi. They were attended by boys and girls at the age from 7 to 12. Pupils mostly learnt how to read and learn by heart shorter texts, only to practice memorizing. Calculating was also taught with emphasis on operations of multiplication, division and fractions. Teacher (magister ludi) neither knew nor taught other operations. This was taught by another teacher (calculator). Lectures were usually held in open space where pupils were sheltered by a special veil (velum) from the street noise and curious looks or in some room near the square gathered around teacher who sat at the table ("cathedra"). They usually sat on chairs holding in their arms wax tables (tabulae cerate) leaning on their knees.
Second stage ("high") schools were managed by lecturers called grammatici. Mostly boys from the age of 11 or 12 to 15 or 16 from weAIThy families attended them. Main subject was learning Latin grammar by heart and chosen texts of classical writers (Virgil, Horace, Terrencius, etc.) as a practical exercise of style and everything that an orator had to know. Prose writers, historians (G. Iulius Caesar, Tacitus, Livius, Salustius, etc.) were rarely taught at this stage. Cicero represented matchless ideal of oratorical art as he embodied, as Virgil, almost entire Latin culture. Roman pedagogy in that sense immitated Hellenistic model.
In brief in Roman schools humanistic and theoretical subjects were favored. AIThough Cicero and Isocrates often emphasized importance of mathematics in their programs, teachers often neglected this instruction. Quintilian who was at the Plato's level emphasized that "there is no orator without geometry" in vain. His appeal was listened to, but it was not executed in practice. Mathematics in Rome remained at the stage of practical, rudimentary arithmetics and elementary geometry which could be used in geodesy and architecture. This was the reason why Romans did not leave important trace in mathematics except several mediocre compilations.
Third-stage ("higher") schools took significantly higher place than two lower stages at the scale of professional and social values. They were intended for education of young men who wanted to pursue political career or prepare for lawyer's profession which was highly esteemed and in demand.
Young men continued to attend school until they were 20, sometimes even longer, after they dressed "manly" toga at the age of 15 or 16. In this school they learned subjects which were necessary in public life: knowing justice, laws, customs, various subjects related with questions of state policy and above all rhetorics as art which implied knowledge of Latin classics as means of mastering art of eloquent and correct speech. Rhetors (rhetores) or orators (oratores) held lectures in rhetorics. They took care that all attendants of this stage practice composing speeches about some theme or subject which demanded good knowledge of oratorical skill as was the case in Greece. This demanded good memory, lively imagination, solid philosophical education, psychology, law, history etc. Practical exercises were performed publicly with participation of schoolmates, friends, family, and citizens. Candidate had to show that he can vividly represent a socially important problem and convince listeners into a way of its solution.
Particular attention was paid to Roman law which was an original Roman invention. Its foundations were laid in the 5th century BC with the Law of the Twelve Tables (Leges duodecim tabularum). Basic determinants of the Roman law were based largely on universal ethical values and terms of universal law of the ancient world. It reached its peak of development at the end of Republican and beginning of Imperial period mostly owing to activities of Roman lawyers who developed private Roman law based on principles of freedom of private property, freedom of making contracts and freedom of disposition by will. Their legal reasoning was characterized by precision, clarity, exactness and consistency in finding just solutions for each specific case. Experienced lawyers (magistri iuris) taught law at schools. Mere knowledge of laws was not enough but there also had to be developed sense and care for greater good and justice. The Romans were aware of that as the greatest good to which young generations should aspire which opened doors of high state positions. Best manual for learning all this was lost Cicero's work De iure civili in septem redigendo in the best manner of Greek logic and Roman law. Other unavoidable manual was Institutiones which was made between 168 and 180 by the lawyer Gaius. Exceptionality of this manual refers to the fact that it was only work of classical Roman law which was preserved unaltered. There were also methodically composed law collections or Digesta. This legal activity reached its peak at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd centuries with lawyers such as Eneus Domitius Ulpianus (ca. 170-228), Aemilius Paulus Papinianus (177-213) and Iulius Paulus who left behind them classical works which will be model for all later lawyers.
In the early Christian period of the Roman Empire law study lasted for four years and the fifth year was introduced dedicated to the study of imperial decrees which were collected in a special code (codex). There were other codes: Codex Gregorianus and Codex Hermagonianus which were formed owing to private initiative. Only Emperor Theodosius II proclaimed official Codex in 439. Development of the Roman law was finished by the Emperor Justinian with his codification (528-534) called Corpus iuris civilis with which Roman legal sources were systematically arranged and legally stregthened. Most famous law schools were in Beirut and Constantinople where law was studied and taught at the highest level. There were many other law schools across the vast Roman Empire which preserved Roman law tradition of exceptional universal importance for future generations.
In brief no matter how strong Greek influence on the Romans was, it did not significantly change nature and purpose of the Roman education which was more practical than Greek, but not technological. The Romans also supported the belief that they should not make their hands dirty by a certain craft or manual work just like the Greeks did. Much greater number of the Romans than Greeks could count on constant influx of slaves who would do all manual labour.
1.11 Lights and Shadows of the Roman Civilization
School program of the Roman schools was gradually reduced in late antiquity. Rome turned away from Greece more and more and the Romans learnt Greek language less so that great cultural and scientific heritage of the Hellenistic world was reduced to telling certain interesting anecdotes preserved by certain writers, particularly in Naturalis historia (Natural history) in 37 books by Pliny the Elder (23-79) and his imitators. Pliny collected from the Greek works several thousands of references, statements and weird legends, peculiar medical recipes which circulated in the Middle Ages. In that way the number of disciplines was reduced, together with former knowledge. But in them priority was given not to humanistic sciences but to certain technical sciences and disciplines: agronomy, geometry, civil and military architecture etc.
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|Title Annotation:||p. 1-27|
|Publication:||DAAAM International Scientific Book|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2013|
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