“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?)

The Limits of Pedantry

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III – Lessing:

“The services rendered by Winckelmann, in bringing the old Greek world into connexion with modern life, were continued in a still larger measure by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729 1781). His father was curate of Kamenz, a small town N.E. of Dresden. At the age of five, when it was proposed to paint his portrait with a bird-cage beside him, the future scholar vehemently protested: ‘you must paint me with a great, great heap of books, or I won’t be painted at all’. At thirteen, he was sent to the famous school of St Afra at Meissen, N.W. of Dresden. The education there given was mainly classical, and the boy’s private reading included Anacreon and the Characters of Theophrastus, as well as Plautus and Terence. He was only seventeen when he entered the university of Leipzig, where J. F. Christ was already lecturing on ancient art, and on Plautus and Horace, and Ernesti was ‘extraordinary professor of Eloquence’, while Kastner, the young professor of mathematics, was soon to give proof of his special interest in literature, and in Lessing. At Leipzig the young student became convinced that ‘books might make him learned, but could never make him a man’, and it was there that he produced his earliest play, a satire on the conceited self-complacency of a youthful pedant. The author had just become conscious of his own pedantry, his horizon had been widened, and the spirit of modern ‘enlightenment ‘ had breathed life into the dry bones of scholarship.”

 

True Philology That Brings Health to the Soul

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, Vol. III – Barthold Georg Niebuhr

“In 1822 he [Niebuhr] addressed, to a young friend, a memorable letter, in which he sets forth a high ideal of a scholar’s life. The authors specially recommended for study are Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Pindar, with Herodotus, Thucydides, Demosthenes and Plutarch, and Cicero, Livy, Caesar, Sallust and Tacitus. All these were to be read with reverence, not with a view to making them the themes of aesthetic criticism, but with a resolve to assimilate their spirit. This (he declares) is the true ‘Philology’ that brings health to the soul, while learned investigations (in the case of such as attain to them) belong to a lower level.”

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Fruitful Latin Study Impossible Without Greek

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. III – Lucian Müller

“As a child, he [Lucian Müller] had lost the sight of one of his eyes, and was very short-sighted; as a boy, he repeatedly read through Zumpt’s larger Latin Grammar and made himself the best Latinist in his school. During his brief experience as a school-master, he proved an ineffective disciplinarian; his head-master, in the hope of improving the discipline of the boys, solemnly told them that they ‘did not deserve to be taught by so learned a master’, and repeated this remark to Lucian Müller, who replied, ‘Yes ! that is exactly what I have told them myself. He held that, for a great scholar, it was essential that he should have, not only wide learning and clear judgement, but also a strong power of concentration on a definite field of labour. It was this that led to his own success in the province of Latin poetry. But he was far from neglecting Greek, for he also held that, without Greek, a fruitful study of Latin was impossible. He was a skilful writer of Latin verse, and insisted on the practice of verse composition as a valuable aid towards the appreciation of the Latin poets. He was impressed with this fact during the preparation of his ‘History of Classical Philology in the Netherlands’ (1865), and he returned to the point in his biographical sketch of the life of Ritschl (1877-8), in the course of which he urged that it was, on the whole, more important for an eminent classical professor to train first-rate school-masters than to turn out classical specialists.”

zumpt

Teacher Appreciation Week: Teachers, Not Specialists

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. 3:

“As a child, he [Lucian Müller] had lost the sight of one of his eyes, and was very short-sighted; as a boy, he repeatedly read through Zumpt’s larger Latin Grammar and made himself the best Latinist in his school. During his brief experience as a school-master, he proved an ineffective disciplinarian; his head-master, in the hope of improving the discipline of the boys, solemnly told them that they ‘did not deserve to be taught by so learned a master’, and repeated this remark to Müller, who replied, ‘Yes ! that is exactly what I have told them myself. He held that, for a great scholar, it was essential that he should have, not only wide learning and clear judgement, but also a strong power of concentration on a definite field of labour. It was this that led to his own success in the province of Latin poetry. But he was far from neglecting Greek, for he also held that, without Greek, a fruitful study of Latin was impossible. He was a skilful writer of Latin verse, and insisted on the practice of verse composition as a valuable aid towards the appreciation of the Latin poets. He was impressed with this fact during the preparation of his ‘History of Classical Philology in the Netherlands’ (1865), and he returned to the point in his biographical sketch of the life of Ritschl (1877-8), in the course of which he urged that it was, on the whole, more important for an eminent classical professor to train first-rate school-masters than to turn out classical specialists.”

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Teachers, Not Specialists

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. 3:

“As a child, he [Lucian Müller] had lost the sight of one of his eyes, and was very short-sighted; as a boy, he repeatedly read through Zumpt’s larger Latin Grammar and made himself the best Latinist in his school. During his brief experience as a school-master, he proved an ineffective disciplinarian; his head-master, in the hope of improving the discipline of the boys, solemnly told them that they ‘did not deserve to be taught by so learned a master’, and repeated this remark to Miiller, who replied, ‘Yes ! that is exactly what I have told them myself. He held that, for a great scholar, it was essential that he should have, not only wide learning and clear judgement, but also a strong power of concentration on a definite field of labour. It was this that led to his own success in the province of Latin poetry. But he was far from neglecting Greek, for he also held that, without Greek, a fruitful study of Latin was impossible. He was a skilful writer of Latin verse, and insisted on the practice of verse composition as a valuable aid towards the appreciation of the Latin poets. He was impressed with this fact during the preparation of his ‘History of Classical Philology in the Netherlands’ (1865), and he returned to the point in his biographical sketch of the life of Ritschl (1877-8), in the course of which he urged that it was, on the whole, more important for an eminent classical professor to train first-rate school-masters than to turn out classical specialists.”

Image result for schoolmaster

“No More Lecturing for Me!”

J.E. Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship Vol. 3:

“As a school-master he [August Meineke] was a man of remarkable moral force and thoroughly religious spirit. He had a strong physique, a broad brow, prominent cheeks and thin lips. The quiet voice of his ordinary conversation rang out loud and strong, whenever he had occasion, as a master, to use the language of reprimand. His resignation of his mastership in 1856 was commemorated by the painting of his portrait, which was reproduced in lithograph with a line in his own hand-writing: οὐκ ἔστι κάλλος οἷον ἁλήθει’ ἔχει. In the first year of his retirement, he excused himself from lecturing in the university by humorously remarking: ‘if any one asks why I do not lecture, you have only to tell him that, after teaching for forty-one years, I have at last made up my mind to try and learn something myself’.”