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Grammar as a liberal art in antiquity

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Abstract

The earliest references to Latin grammar in the first century BCE associated grammar with the study of virtue and the Liberal Arts. The view of the Liberal Arts as a complete form of education was cherished in Antiquity by Platonists in particular, and was characterized by unity of study as well as the idea of ascent from a lower, earthly level to higher, divine realities. These are also the characteristic features of the most complete Platonic theory of learning preserved from Antiquity – the one found in Augustine’s <i>De ordine</i>. It has been a matter of dispute to what extent this theory depends on Varro’s<i>Disciplinarum libri novem</i>. The present study has shown that the educational theory of Late Antiquity differed from that of the first century BCE at least in one important respect: the role of dialectic is much more prominent in Augustine’s <i>De ordine </i>than it is in the earlier works.

References

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