“The Cycle of Learning”: Poetry on the Medieval Curriculum from Tzetzes

John Tzetzes, Chiliades 11.520-533
“Encyclical learnings, the lyrics put properly,
Are properly also the first lessons to have that title,
And it comes from that circle the lyric chorus stood in,
When it was composed of fifty men, to chant the melodies.
The encyclical learnings, the lyrics put properly.

The second reason the encyclical learnings are called
A cycle is [they are] the full circle of all learning:
Grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy itself
And then subordinate to this the four arts are placed:
Arithmetic, music, and geometry
And crossing heaven itself: astronomy.
This encyclical learning, all of these things, for a second reason
As Porphyry wrote in his Lives of the Philosophers
And thousands of other eloquent men [have written too].”

Chiliades 11 Cyclical

In his comments dismissing Tzetzes, Sir Sandys uses this passage to give an example of what his poetry his like (“The following lines are a very faovurable example of his style…” 408). (Also, why’d he have to drag poor Porphyry into this?)

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: