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Classical Scholar |WORK|

Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. In the Western world, classics traditionally refers to the study of Classical Greek and Roman literature and their related original languages, Ancient Greek and Latin. Classics also includes Greco-Roman philosophy, history, archaeology, anthropology, art, mythology and society as secondary subjects.

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In the Middle Ages, classics and education were tightly intertwined; according to Jan Ziolkowski, there is no era in history in which the link was tighter.[3] Medieval education taught students to imitate earlier classical models,[4] and Latin continued to be the language of scholarship and culture, despite the increasing difference between literary Latin and the vernacular languages of Europe during the period.[4]

Along with the unavailability of Greek authors, there were other differences between the classical canon known today and the works valued in the Middle Ages. Catullus, for instance, was almost entirely unknown in the medieval period.[6] The popularity of different authors also waxed and waned throughout the period: Lucretius, popular during the Carolingian period, was barely read in the twelfth century, while for Quintilian the reverse is true.[6]

The late 17th and 18th centuries are the period in Western European literary history which is most associated with the classical tradition, as writers consciously adapted classical models.[11] Classical models were so highly prized that the plays of William Shakespeare were rewritten along neoclassical lines, and these "improved" versions were performed throughout the 18th century.[12] In the United States, the nation's Founders were strongly influenced by the classics, and they looked in particular to the Roman Republic for their form of government.[13]

From the beginning of the 18th century, the study of Greek became increasingly important relative to that of Latin.[14]In this period Johann Winckelmann's claims for the superiority of the Greek visual arts influenced a shift in aesthetic judgements, while in the literary sphere, G.E. Lessing "returned Homer to the centre of artistic achievement".[15]In the United Kingdom, the study of Greek in schools began in the late 18th century. The poet Walter Savage Landor claimed to have been one of the first English schoolboys to write in Greek during his time at Rugby School.[16] In the United States, philhellenism began to emerge in the 1830s, with a turn "from a love of Rome and a focus on classical grammar to a new focus on Greece and the totality of its society, art, and culture."[17].

Though the influence of classics as the dominant mode of education in Europe and North America was in decline in the 19th century, the discipline was rapidly evolving in the same period. Classical scholarship was becoming more systematic and scientific, especially with the "new philology" created at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century.[22] Its scope was also broadening: it was during the 19th century that ancient history and classical archaeology began to be seen as part of classics, rather than separate disciplines.[20]

During the 20th century, the study of classics became less common. In England, for instance, Oxford and Cambridge universities stopped requiring students to have qualifications in Greek in 1920,[21] and in Latin at the end of the 1950s.[23] When the National Curriculum was introduced in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland in 1988, it did not mention the classics.[23] By 2003, only about 10% of state schools in Britain offered any classical subjects to their students at all.[24] In 2016, AQA, the largest exam board for A-Levels and GCSEs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, announced that it would be scrapping A-Level subjects in Classical Civilisation, Archaeology, and Art History.[25] This left just one out of five exam boards in England which still offered Classical Civilisation as a subject. The decision was immediately denounced by archaeologists and historians, with Natalie Haynes of the Guardian stating that the loss of the A-Level would deprive state school students, 93% of all students, the opportunity to study classics while making it once again the exclusive purview of wealthy private-school students.[26]

Philology is the study of language preserved in written sources; classical philology is thus concerned with understanding any texts from the classical period written in the classical languages of Latin and Greek.[29]The roots of classical philology lie in the Renaissance, as humanist intellectuals attempted to return to the Latin of the classical period, especially of Cicero,[30] and as scholars attempted to produce more accurate editions of ancient texts.[31] Some of the principles of philology still used today were developed during this period, for instance, the observation that if a manuscript could be shown to be a copy of an earlier extant manuscript, then it provides no further evidence of the original text, was made as early as 1489 by Angelo Poliziano.[32] Other philological tools took longer to be developed: the first statement, for instance, of the principle that a more difficult reading should be preferred over a simpler one, was in 1697 by Jean Le Clerc.[33]

The modern discipline of classical philology began in Germany at the turn of the nineteenth century.[22] It was during this period that scientific principles of philology began to be put together into a coherent whole,[34] in order to provide a set of rules by which scholars could determine which manuscripts were most accurate.[35] This "new philology", as it was known, centered around the construction of a genealogy of manuscripts, with which a hypothetical common ancestor, closer to the original text than any existing manuscript, could be reconstructed.[36]

Classical archaeology is the oldest branch of archaeology,[37] with its roots going back to J.J. Winckelmann's work on Herculaneum in the 1760s.[38] It was not until the last decades of the 19th century, however, that classical archaeology became part of the tradition of Western classical scholarship.[38] It was included as part of Cambridge University's Classical Tripos for the first time after the reforms of the 1880s, though it did not become part of Oxford's Greats until much later.[21]

More recently, classical archaeology has taken little part in the theoretical changes in the rest of the discipline,[42] largely ignoring the popularity of "New Archaeology", which emphasized the development of general laws derived from studying material culture, in the 1960s.[43] New Archaeology is still criticized by traditional minded scholars of classical archaeology despite a wide acceptance of its basic techniques.[44]

Some art historians focus their study on the development of art in the classical world. Indeed, the art and architecture of Ancient Rome and Greece is very well regarded and remains at the heart of much of our art today. For example, Ancient Greek architecture gave us the Classical Orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. The Parthenon is still the architectural symbol of the classical world.

With philology, archaeology, and art history, scholars seek understanding of the history and culture of a civilization, through critical study of the extant literary and physical artefacts, in order to compose and establish a continual historic narrative of the Ancient World and its peoples. The task is difficult due to a dearth of physical evidence: for example, Sparta was a leading Greek city-state, yet little evidence of it survives to study, and what is available comes from Athens, Sparta's principal rival; likewise, the Roman Empire destroyed most evidence (cultural artefacts) of earlier, conquered civilizations, such as that of the Etruscans.

From the last decade of the eighteenth century, scholars of ancient philosophy began to study the discipline historically.[47] Previously, works on ancient philosophy had been unconcerned with chronological sequence and with reconstructing the reasoning of ancient thinkers; with what Wolfgang-Ranier Mann calls "New Philosophy", this changed.[48]

Another discipline within the classics is "reception studies",[49] which developed in the 1960s at the University of Konstanz.[50]Reception studies is concerned with how students of classical texts have understood and interpreted them.[50]As such, reception studies is interested in a two-way interaction between reader and text,[51] taking place within a historical context.[52]

Ancient Greek is the historical stage in the development of the Greek language spanning the Archaic (c. 8th to 6th centuries BC), Classical (c. 5th to 4th centuries BC), and Hellenistic (c. 3rd century BC to 6th century AD) periods of ancient Greece and the ancient world. It is predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek. Its Hellenistic phase is known as Koine ("common") or Biblical Greek, and its late period mutates imperceptibly into Medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earlier form it closely resembles Classical Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classical and earlier periods included several regional dialects.

Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of classical Athenian historians, playwrights, and philosophers. It has contributed many words to the vocabulary of English and many other European languages, and has been a standard subject of study in Western educational institutions since the Renaissance. Latinized forms of Ancient Greek roots are used in many of the scientific names of species and in other scientific terminology.

Two historians flourished during Greece's classical age: Herodotus and Thucydides. Herodotus is commonly called the father of history, and his "History" contains the first truly literary use of prose in Western literature. Of the two, Thucydides was the more careful historian. His critical use of sources, inclusion of documents, and laborious research made his History of the Peloponnesian War a significant influence on later generations of historians. The greatest achievement of the 4th century was in philosophy. There were many Greek philosophers, but three names tower above the rest: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These have had a profound influence on Western society. 041b061a72


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