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Christianity and the Survival of Ancient Learning


The decline of the Roman Empire and its final collapse was accompanied by a profound loss of the learning of the ancient world that left the West intellectually impoverished before the gradual rediscovery of these ancient texts in Arabic and Greek editions from the 12th century onwards. The loss of so much of the intellectual heritage of the Roman Empire in the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire is one of the reasons previous generations of historians have referred to the early medieval period as the Dark Ages. The causes of the collapse of the Roman Empire are numerous - economic decline, political and social stagnation, a massive contraction in population and the barbarian invasions all acted to bring about its end. However, there is also the frequent accusation that Christianity was also a major cause of the destruction of Roman civilisation through its supposed opposition to pagan learning. This is supposed to have resulted in a campaign of destruction by Christians against ancient science and philosophy, so that instead of enjoying ancient science and wisdom, Western Europe was left in scientific and philosophical ignorance under the absolute control of the Church.

The belief that Christianity actively encouraged the destruction of ancient Greek and Roman learning, and so was responsible for the emergence of the Dark Ages can be traced back to the anticlerical writers of the 18th and 19th centuries, who admired the intellectual achievements of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, and saw the Church as suppressing reason in favour of a rigidly enforced and irrational faith. The early Christians were indeed critical of much ancient literature and the Roman education system, because of their basis in paganism. Despite this, the Church included intellectually curious people who attempted to collect and preserve ancient literature and philosophy as the Roman Empire declined. Much of the ancient learning was lost through a process of apathy and the destruction caused by the barbarian invasions, rather than a deliberate policy by the Church. In the chaos of the barbarian invasions and the following centuries, it was the Church that preserved the ancient learning, and established the system of schools and universities based on the ancient curriculum to teach it and the other, ancient texts when they were rediscovered.

Early Christians Attitudes to Pagan Education

Ancient pagan opponents of Christianity had indeed attacked it for being a religion of the uneducated. Celsus claimed that Christianity was spread by people with only the most basic levels of literacy, such as woolworkers, cobblers, laundry workers, illiterate peasants and stupid women who told children to disregard their fathers and school-teachers and obey them instead. 1 Galen attacked his rivals in medicine by stating that, while he demonstrated his theories, they offered no proof and simply expected to be believed, like 'the school of Moses and Christ'. 2 Christians, on the other hand, attacked formal education as a way of countering the claim that they were uneducated, stating that philosophers could not agree on anything and only spent time arguing with each other. Christian simplicity was frequently held up as giving a greater understanding than pagan philosophy. When Abba Arsenius, one of the Desert Fathers of Egyptian monasticism, was asked why he consulted an old Egyptian monk, who was a peasant, about his distracting thoughts, when he had a good Latin and Greek education, he replied that it was because, although he knew Latin and Greek, he did not know even the peasant monk's alphabet. 3 For Abba Arsenius, the peasant monk, in his simplicity, had greater wisdom than Arsenius himself with his excellent classical education. Jerome and St. Augustine both argued against the pagan educational system because they felt that schoolchildren would be corrupted by its paganism. Basil of Caesarea, however, believed that some pagan literature could be used in Christian education, and his work Ad Iuvenes (Advice to the Young) was particularly influential in the Renaissance. 4

In fact the early Christians included extremely well-educated people from nearly all levels of society, from the wealthy to those much lower in the social scale. Abba Arsenius, for example, before he became a monk had been tutor to the sons of the emperor Honorius. Both Ambrose of Milan and Basil of Caesarea were highly educated and used complex philosophical arguments in their discussions of the Christian faith. 5 While there were school texts for Christians that omitted pagan mythology, the educational curriculum for them soon also included Homer for those who spoke Greek, and Virgil for Latin speakers. 6 Indeed, Christianity was from a very early period associated with books and literature. A painting of the Last Judgement in the Catacombs shows a group of Christians arriving holding their books. When a group of Christian prisoners were asked by the governor of Africa what they had brought with them to court, they replied that it was 'texts of Paul, a just man.' 7 Clement of Alexandria, in his Paedagogus, wrote in a fine style of elevated Attic Greek, referring to Homer and the Comic poets and basing part of his argument on Stoic philosophy. Contemporary scholars have compared this favourably with pagan works, stating that his literary allusions were proof 'of the range and stamina of a cultured Christian author and his audience. The pagan schools had produced nothing more dazzling.' 8 Further down the social scale, in Rome in the late 180s there was a group of Greek-speaking Christians from Asia Minor who studied Euclid's geometry, Aristotelian philosophy and Galen, led by Theodotus, a leather worker, although this group was subsequently excommunicated for heresy. 9 The Bodmer collection of papyri, a group of nine scrolls and 29 codices discovered at the end of 1952 near the village of Dishna in Egypt also indicates that the early Christian community there read the great works of literature of the Classical world as well as the Bible. 10 As well as 24 volumes of Biblical texts, the collection includes Homer, Menander, Thucydides and Cicero. Some scholars have found the presence of these secular, pagan works amongst the Christian volumes so out of place that they have suggested that the collection is really two hoards, which were added together by the sellers to make the contents more attractive to the Western scholars who purchased them when they were discovered. The simplest explanation, however, is that the various works in the collection do indeed come from the same library, and that the early Christians of Upper Egypt were well acquainted with the Greek and Roman classics. 11

Survival of Classical Culture during the Dark Ages

The fall of the Roman Empire did not result in the end of secular literature and learning in the West. During the reign of Theodoric, who ruled northern Italy from 491-526, both Romans and Ostrogoths read and collected books. These collectors were generally cultured members of the senatorial aristocracy, who were active in preserving and revising the texts of many of the great works of classical culture. Their private libraries included not just Christian texts, but also the works of Greek scientists, philosophers and historians. According to Virgil the Grammarian in the 7th century, it was customary to have two separate libraries for Christian and pagan literature respectively. This practice corresponded to the earlier Roman custom of creating separate libraries for Greek and Latin works. 12 In fact the barbarian invaders were generally literate and Christian, though Arian rather than Catholic, and viewed themselves as the heirs to ancient Roman culture, which was immensely admired. Thus there was widespread book production in Italy, Spain and Gaul during the fifth and sixth centuries. 13 The royal library of the Visigothic kings at Toledo in Spain contained profane as well as Christian works, and the aristocracy and clergy were well-educated in the pagan classics. Isidore of Seville, the author of the Etymologies, one of the first Christian encyclopedias, read Vergil as well as the Christian poets. Spanish monks generally did not reject secular literature, and they defended the study of pagan works, which they sometimes claimed contained prefigurations of Christian truth. 14

The Ancient Roman Educational System

Nevertheless, much learning was lost due to the barbarian invasions. The Frankish invasion in Gaul resulted in the complete destruction of the education system there by the second half of the seventh century. 15 This situation was not helped by the fact that there was nothing like a system of free public education in ancient Rome. The emperors had early adopted the role of patrons of learning, granting material privileges and sometimes stipends to leading scholars. Vespasian made Quintilian, the great Roman rhetorician and educationalist, a professor of literature and rhetoric, and subsequent emperors established similar chairs at Rome, Athens and elsewhere. Nevertheless, education was restricted to the wealthy, and responsibility for the establishment of lower schools was left to individual local authorities and parents with the necessary funds to pay for a schoolmaster. 16 Elementary classes were held in an open porch in the public square, partitioned off from the passing traffic by a sheet of tent-cloth stretched between the pillars. Schoolmasters in both Rome and ancient Greek had little respect and were poorly paid. Although Athens had passed legislation regulating conditions in schools, possibly dating from the time of Solon, the Greek cities rarely required high standards in their schoolmasters. The unregulated nature of ancient education meant that high qualifications for school teachers were often not demanded. As a result the low status of the school teacher was often insultingly contrasted with the great value of education itself. In the fourth century BC Demosthenes attacked his rival, Aeschines, with the comment that Demosthenes himself had been to school, while Aeschines' father had only been the schoolteacher. 17 The ludi magister, or elementary school teacher, was often a slave or freedman. The pay for these was so low that they were required to have at least 30 pupils before they had the same monthly salary as a carpenter. Juvenal considered teaching to be in the same category of jobs as bath-attendants, fortune-tellers and tight-rope walkers. Cicero placed them with medicine below members of the liberal professions, but above shopkeepers and manual labourers. 18 The secondary school teacher, the grammaticus, under Diocletian received a salary four times that of the ludi magister, though they were as likely to be a slave or freedman. The secondary schools were better equipped than the primary schools, with a few maps and busts of the poets. Nevertheless, it was still held in an open porch. 19

The Ancient Jewish School System in the Diaspora

The Jewish educational system during the Diaspora was rather different. In order to protect their religion and culture from Hellenization, the Jews established a system of schools. These included the Beth-hasepher, or House of the Book, or elementary school, to teach boys from six or seven to 13 the Torah. Although it was originally held in any suitable room, by the late second century AD it was held in the synagogue. It was a private, fee-paying school, though a tax levied on all parents meant that entry to it was free for those who could not afford to pay. 20 Beyond the elementary school was the Beth-hamidrash, or House of Study or exposition, where boys from 13 to 17 years old were taught the Midrash or Oral Law. 21 The religious nature of Jewish education demanded high moral qualities from its teachers. He was expected to have the required knowledge of the Torah, a highly moral character, patience, a good understanding of children and be married. It was stated that 'If the teacher can be compared to an angel of the Lord of Hosts the Torah may be sought at his mouth: if not, if the Torah may not be sought at his mouth.' 22 As a result, the Jewish elementary school teacher was respected far more than Greek or Roman schoolmasters. Nevertheless, their tenure was not secure. In the early days of the private schools they were placed in the same class as village craftsmen. After the creation of the communally organised school system, they were the lowest of the communal officials. 23 Commentators on the ancient Jewish educational system note that it was not merely intended to prepare the child for adult life at the expense of their present situation. The religious curriculum of festivals, prayers, benedictions and the Torah and psalms was intended to give the child spiritual and moral benefit for himself, so he could play his part in the religious life of the community as a child. It was based on the notion, completely absent in the ancient Greek world, that the child had rights and was expected to play their role in the community. 24

The Roman Curriculum and Lack of Science Education

The Roman curriculum itself consisted of grammar, rhetoric, literature and philosophy with oratory. 25 Although the elementary schools could also include a calculator, or teacher of arithmetic, unlike the Greeks, Roman education did not include science or mathematics. 26 Indeed, Roman scientific works were all translations or adaptations of Greek works. Celsus, however, wrote a history of medicine, and there were numerous handbooks for practical subjects. There were also a number of encyclopedias published. Cato the Censor in 180 BC wrote a summary of all the contemporary knowledge of medicine, farming and oratory. This was later surpassed by Varro's nine books on grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, music, medicine and architecture. The great textbook of Roman biology, the Natural History of Pliny the Elder, survived into the Middle Ages. While Pliny's book was original, Seneca based his work of science, Natural Questions, mainly on Aristotle. 27 The Romans were not, however, interested in mathematics. Cicero described any insoluble mystery as an 'archimedean problem'. Roman interest in Greek science was limited to brief, practical manuals. These had a wide circulation, but do not appear to have inspired Romans to engage in similar research. 28 Pliny in his Natural History complained of the marked lack of research in the contemporary Roman Empire, and contrasted it with the plethora of works produced by the Greeks when the existence of wars between independent states and pirates disrupted communications. 'Yet now in these glad times of peace, under an emperor who so delights in the advancement of letters and science, no addition whatever is being made to knowledge by means of original research, and in fact even the discoveries of our predecessors are not being thoroughly studied,' he lamented. 29 Thus long before Christianity gained power, there was an increasing lack of interest in science and philosophy in the Roman world.

Foundation of Libraries by Christian Church

Nevertheless, despite the decline in scientific and philosophical research in the Western Roman Empire and the chaos and disruption caused by the barbarian invasions, western churchmen were still active in founding libraries. Cassiodorus in the fifth century, for example, had dreamed of founding a Christian university when he was young, and collected books for its library. This project came to an end with the Gothic War of the 530s, but nevertheless he was able to use the books to establish a smaller library at the Vivarium, the monastery he founded at Squilace on the southern coast of Italy. By the 560s the library was the centre of a substantial collection of Christian religious texts, though it did not long survive the death of its founder. 30 Other monasteries in 6th century Italy also contained important libraries. Lucullanum, near Naples, held copies of the Gospels, the letters of St. Augustine, the Excepta of Augustine's works by Eugippius, and Origen and Rufinus. The most important of these monastic libraries, however, was that established by St. Benedict at Monte Cassino in 529.

Monte Cassino was the mother house of the Benedictine order and so immensely influential in the history of western monasticism. Under St. Benedict's Rule, all monks were expected to read as well as perform manual work. 31 Originally monks were expected to spend four hours a day reading, but this period was curtailed in the 10th century due to the expansion of the liturgical services. Nevertheless, the obligation to read still continued. 32 They were also expected to spend Sundays reading. 33 Every monk was required to take a book out at Lent to read straight through, with no skipping or putting it aside to do something else. 34 There is a list from 1040 of the books borrowed by individual monks at Cluny. The vast majority of the monks chose religious works, with only one reading a secular author, Livy. 35 Nevertheless, Benedictine libraries also included secular authors. Thus, during the reign of the Frankish king Charlemagne, the monks studied the rhetoricians Cicero and Quintilian, Vergil, and arithmetic, geometry, natural history, astronomy and music, though Aristotle and Euclid were known only in the Latin editions of Boethius. 36 The monastic libraries also included books on agriculture and surveying, as well as medical anthologies, such as the works of Galen and Hippocrates. 37

It was not only the Roman Catholic church that established monastic libraries. The medieval Irish Celtic Church was one of the foremost centres of learning in early medieval Europe. To authors like Thomas Cahill, it was the Irish who saved European civilisation in this period through the preservation of Greek and Roman literature and culture in their monasteries. Each Irish Celtic abbey contained a scriptorium, or teach screptra - 'house of writing', in Irish, in which the books were kept in polairi, leather satchels hanging from pegs. These satchels were used to protect the books in them when they were carried from one location to another. 38 Irish monks were missionary and peripatetic, wandering across Europe to spread Christianity. In doing so, they founded monasteries and established libraries. The great Irish abbot, Columban, established a monastery at Bobbio in northern Italy. Although this was originally established to provide the scholarship to combat the Arian heresy, it expanded beyond that to become one of the greatest centres of learning in early medieval Italy. While most of the books were religious, it also included a number of secular works, including authors such as Aristotle, Vergil, Cicero, Ovid, Terence, Martial, Perseus, Juvenal, Pliny, Lucan, Valerius Flaccus, Cato, as well as Orosius, Cassiodorus and Boethius. So devoted were the monks to continuing Latin culture that they even erased Biblical texts so that the parchment could be used for Latin grammars. 39 Eventually the monastery declined due to internal dissension and repeated attacks by rival Christian princes. Nevertheless, it played a major role in the preservation of the ancient classics. 'We owe to the Bobbio library the texts that we have of many classics of Roman literature - texts that were copied at Bobbio from manuscripts once housed in the villas of Roman patricians.' 40 In Britain, the Cathedral school at York was also a major centre for European learning. Established by Egbert, a pupil of the great Anglo-Saxon churchman, Bede, under Egbert's successor, archbishop Ethelbert, it possessed one of the finest libraries in Europe. 41 According to the Anglo-Saxon cleric and scholar Alcuin, who later became one of the leading ecclesiastical scholars in France under Charlemagne, the library not only contained religious works, but also secular authors such as Aristotle, Pliny and Pompey. 42

The Byzantine empire also possessed a number of major libraries. Constantine had established a school in Constantinople, which was given a library by Julian the Apostate. Enthusiastically supported by the emperors, this contained 120,000 volumes. In 372 the emperor Valens ordered that it should be staffed by seven antiquarians, charged with maintaining the collection and making new copies. The library had its own scriptorium, but also purchased books from monastic libraries, such as the monasteries at Constantinople and Mount Athos. 43 However, public access to the library was restricted after a fire in 476. Nevertheless, other major monasteries and churches also maintained libraries, though these tended to be overwhelmingly religious in nature. The library at Patmos only contained 15 secular authors amongst its collection of 330 books. 44

Despite this, the Byzantine Empire was highly cultured with an intellectual heritage directly descended from ancient Greece and Rome. The curriculum at the University of Constantinople included ancient philosophy, rhetoric and the natural sciences as well as theology, using texts compiled by Alexandrian schoolmasters in the first century AD. 45 The empire had a much higher literacy rate than that of western Europe, and wealthy patrons of learning themselves created great private libraries. Educated Byzantines knew Plato, as well as the Bible and religious works such as the writings of St. John of the Ladder. 46 There was a flourishing book trade which even exported works to Arab libraries. 47 There was no conflict between ancient classical humanism and Christianity, as they were part of the same living tradition, as both the Church Fathers and the ancient philosophers spoke Greek. Thus clerics like Bishop Eustathios of Salonika, were able to write commentaries on secular, classical authors like Homer, as well as their sermons. 48 Nearly every Greek text that survives today was produced by a Byzantine copyist, usually a monk, and so Byzantium preserved, interpreted and passed on the heritage of the ancient world. 49 Some secular classical learning also entered Kievan Russia through the collections of aphorisms that circulated in Byzantium and were translated into Old Church Slavonic after Russia converted to Christianity. This included the 11th century Melissa, 'Bee', which was translated into Old Church Slavonic as the Pchela, and contained quotations from Democritus, Plato, Aristotle, Philo and Epictetus. 50

Christian Translation of Scientific Texts and the Beginnings of Muslim Science

Christian scholars were also active in the translation of the classical scientific and medical works that formed the basis of the medieval Islamic scientific project. During the Middle Ages science and philosophy in Islam was more advanced than in the West. The abbasid caliphs al-Mamun, al-Mansur and al-Rashid had attempted to introduce and integrate the scientific knowledge from the various nations of their empire through their translation into Arabic, establishing a Bayt al-Hikma - 'House of Science' - as a library of scientific works. These caliphs, according to tradition, acquired scientific and medical texts from Byzantium. The most active translator of medical texts for the library was a Nestorian Christian, Hunayn ibn Ishaq. 51 Hunayn led a team of scholars who translated Hippocrates and Galen into Arabic. His son, Ishaq, who succeeded him, translated Aristotle, Euclid's Elements and Ptolemy's Almagest. 52 The abbasid caliphs drew for some of their medical knowledge on a medical school established by Nestorian Christians in Jundishapur in Iran after their expulsion from Edessa in 489. This school taught Greek medicine in Syriac and Persian translations, and the head of the school, the Nestorian Jibra'il ibn Bakhtishu, was summoned to Baghdad in 765 AD to serve as the court physician to the caliph al-Mansur. Under the caliph Harun al-Rashid, Jibra'il was responsible for the construction of the bimaristan or hospital at Baghdad, modelled on the Syro-Persian hospital established at Jundishapur. The hospital at Baghdad built by Jibra'il subsequently become the model for other hospitals in Baghdad and elsewhere. 53

Christian Inclusion of Science and Secular Learning

In Christianity, St. Augustine argued for the inclusion of all the disciplines of the pagan classical world in a Christian curriculum of study in his De Doctrina Christiana. Augustine considered that a knowledge of sciences, such as that of plants and animals, precious stones, numerology, astronomy and music all helped to lead to a greater understanding of the truth of the Bible, especially the allegories and imagery in scripture. 54 He also argued that scholars should learn rhetoric in order to lead people to a love of Biblical knowledge. 55

St. Augustine was not alone in seeking to use pagan, classical knowledge in the service of Christian learning. As well as founding the Vivarium library, Cassiodorus, like St. Augustine, also wrote an educational work, the Institutiones or 'Divine and Secular Learning'. 56 Describing itself as 'an introduction to divine and human readings', this also recommended the study of grammar, history, science and mathematics as leading to a greater understanding of the Bible and God's creation, and included them with a syllabus of theological study for the practice of monasticism. 57 However, rather than integrate these elements into a single whole, Cassiodorus arranged them into two sections, the first dealing with the Bible, and the second covering the liberal arts needed for its interpretation. This second part could also be read on its own, purely as a summary of secular knowledge, and this is what many of its readers appear to have done. Of the surviving manuscripts of the book, only three contain both parts one and two. The other versions of the book are copies of either the first or second parts of the book on their own. The fact that part two of the book, dealing with secular studies, was copied separately indicates that such learning was already enjoyed and studies for its own sake, apart from its relevance to religious scholarship. 58

Following St. Augustine and Cassiodorus, Gerbert of Reims was also particularly influential in the establishment of the ancient classical scholarship in the medieval curriculum in the late tenth century. From 972 onwards Gerbert taught Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy and his works on arithmetic and music, as well as Porphyry's Introduction to Logic, Aristotle's Categories and De Interpretatione, Cicero's Topics, as well as astronomy and the theory of music. He also taught the authors Virgil, Statius, Terence, Juvenal, Persius, Horace and Lucan. 59

Apart from the works of classical literature, there were a number of scientific and philosophical works circulating from the fourth to the tenth centuries in Latin editions. These included the first 53 chapters of Plato's Timaeus, translated from the Greek in the fourth century by Chalcidius; Aristotle's works on logic, such as the Logica Vetus, translated by Boethius; the anonymous Greek medical treatise, the Physiologus, which was written in Alexandria in the second century AD and tranlated into Latin in the fifth. A number of technical Compositiones were also translated from the Greek in the 8th century, while the ninth century saw the translation of parts of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura. 60 Other works circulating in this period included Macrobius' manual on dreams, In Somnium Scipionis, and Martianus Capella's Satyricon, sive De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii et de Septem Artibus Liberalibus, or the Nuptials of Philology and Mercury, a manual on the seven liberal arts of grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy, of the fifth century AD. 61 Amonst the scientific works produced during the Carolingian renaissance was a version of the astronomical treatise, the Phaenomena, written by the ancient Athenian poet Aratus, who lived c. 315-140/39 BC. 62 This ninth century version of the ancient poem on the constellations was produced as part of what the emperor Charlemagne saw as his 'duty to ensure the progress of our churches.' 63 Thus, even before the rediscovery of the Arab editions of the ancient classical authors that produced the twelfth century renaissance, the Church was active rediscovering, copying and preserving the classical heritage.

Establishment of Schools by the Christian Church

The Church was also active establishing a system of schools which taught this ancient learning not just to clerics but also to laypeople. Benedictine monasteries maintained two schools, an inner school for the oblates and novices studying for their career as monks, and an outer school for secular clergy and the sons of the nobility. 64 From the sixth to the thirteenth centuries there was a succession of orders from church councils, synods and bishops requiring that all clergy should teach free of charge. 65 There are recorded cases of men who had a monastic education, but did not become monks. Some English abbots maintained schools and schoolmasters to give poor boys a secular education. 66 All education was under the control of the local bishop, and during the twelfth century the schools of the local cathedral became grammar schools, so called because they taught Latin grammar. The education offered by the grammar schools was particularly attractive to laypeople, because in addition to Latin they often also taught one other liberal art. Thus, when the demand for education was too great for the local cathedral school to cope, additional grammar schools were founded, with the permission of the local bishop, attached to other institutions, such as almshouses and chantries, or founded by a trade guild. 67

Loss of Classical Knowledge and Destruction of the Great Library of Alexandria

Nevertheless, much classical knowledge was lost despite the attempts of the Church to preserve it. Cassiodorus' insistence on the essentially religious nature of monastic libraries contributed to ending the practice of monasteries copying pagan classics commissioned by wealthy lay people, though this practice returned during the Carolingian renaissance. 68 It has been suggested that the great library at Alexandria was destroyed either by Christians, or the Muslims when they invaded Egypt in 641 AD. In fact, rather than being destroyed in a single act of destruction, the library quietly declined and faded away through apathy and neglect after the decline of classical, humanistic civilisation. 69

Conclusion: The Christian Church Preserved 'Romania', the Roman Way of Life, into the Middle Ages

Thus, the Christian Church worked to preserve classical culture and learning during the decline of the Roman Empire and destruction of the barbarian invasions despite the intense dislike of pagan culture by the early Christians in the second century AD. The Roman educational system was destroyed not by the Christians, but through the economic, demographic, social and political decline of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions. 'Thus the barbarian interlude did not result in a complete break between Christian Europe and the classical world; and the medieval church preserved in its Latin Bible, the Vulgate of St. Jerome, the strong moral emphasis of its Hebrew origins. Augustine owed much to Platonic thought, the medieval schoolmen much to Aristotle, but the bible was the source of their faith. We can trace these Hebrew and classical influences throughout the Middle Ages.' 70 That the church worked to preserve classical culture is not surprising. St. Augustine, Cassiodorus and the Christian Church considered themselves perservers and supporters of Romania, the Roman way of life. 71 Thus far from working to destroy classical civilisation, the Christian church attempted to preserve and transform it, and in doing so the classical heritage survived the fall of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions into the Middle Ages, to form the basis of the modern world.


1. Gillian Clark, Christianity and Roman Society (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 2004), p. 81.

2. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society, p. 82.

3. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society, p. 82; Benedicta Ward, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (Kalamazoo, Cistercian Publications 1984), p. 10.

4. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society, p. 89; Irena Backus, 'The Early Church in Renaissance and Reformation' in Ian Hazlett, Early Christianity: Origins and Evolution to AD 600 (London, SPCK 1991), p. 298.

5. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society, p. 82.

6. Clark, Christianity and Roman Society, p. 89.

7. Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians in the Meditteranean World: From the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine (London, Penguin 1986), p. 304.

8. Fox, Pagans and Christians, p. 306.

9. Fox, Pagans and Christians, p. 308.

10. Christopher De Hamel, The Book: A History of the Bible (London, Phaidon 2001), p. 316-7, 318.

11. De Hamel, The Book, p. 319.

12. Fred Lerner, The Story of Libraries from the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age (New York, Continuum 2001), p. 38.

13. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 38.

14. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 38.

15. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 38.

16. Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold, eds., Roman Civilization - Vol. 2: Selected Readings - The Empire (New York, Columbia University Press 1990), p. 198.

17. E.B. Castle, Ancient Education and Today (Harmondsworth, Penguin 1961), p. 65.

18. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 126.

19. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 128.

20. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 177.

21. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 180.

22. Castle, Ancient Education, pp. 181-2.

23. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 182.

24. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 185.

25. Naphtali and Meyer, Roman Civilisation, p. 198.

26. Castle, Ancient Education, p. 124.

27. Esmond Wright, ed., History of the World: Prehistory to the Renaissance (Feltham, Newnes Books 1985), p. 237-8.

28. Wright, History of the World, p. 238.

29. Lewis and Reinhold, Roman Civilization, p. 210.

30. Lerner, Story of Libraries, pp. 38-9.

31. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 46; R.W. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages (London, Century Hutchinson 1987), p. 180.

32. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 180.

33. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 46.

34. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 46; Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 180.

35. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 182.

36. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 47.

37. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 48.

38. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 40.

39. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 41.

40. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 41.

41. Lerner, Story of Libraries, pp. 42-3.

42. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 43.

43. Lerner, Story of Libraries, pp. 49-50.

44. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 50.

45. Wright, History of the World, p. 358.

46. Wright, History of the World, p. 358.

47. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 50.

48. Wright, History of the World, p. 358.

49. Wright, History of the World, p. 358.

50. George Vernadsky, Kievan Russia (New Haven, Yale University Press), p. 283.

51. A.I. Sabra, 'The Scientific Enterprise' in Bernard Lewis, ed., The World of Islam: Faith, People, Culture (London, Thames and Hudson 1992), p. 181.

52. Sabra, 'Scientific Enterprise' in Lewis, ed., World of Islam, p. 182.

53. Sabra, 'Scientific Enterprise' in Lewis, ed., World of Islam, p. 182.

54. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 164.

55. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 165.

56. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 39; Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 165.

57. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 39.

58. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, p. 166.

59. Southern, Making of the Middle Ages, pp. 168-9.

60. A.C. Crombie, Augustine to Galileo Vol. 1 - Science in the Middle Ages- V-XIII Centuries (London, Mercury Books 1959), p. 37.

61. Crombie, Augustine to Galileo, vol. 1, p. 38; J.W. Adamson, 'Education' in C.G. Crump and E.F. Jacob, eds., The Legacy of the Middle Ages (Oxford, Clarendon 1926), p. 273.

62. Ranee Katzenstein and Emilie Savage-Smith, The Leiden Aratea: Ancient Constellations in a Medieval Manuscript (Malibu, the J. Paul Getty Museum 1988), p. 5

63. Katzenstein and Savage-Smith, Leiden Aratea, p. 7.

64. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 45; J.W. Adamson, 'Education, in C.G. Crump and E.F. Jacob, eds., The Legacy of the Middle Ages (Oxford, Clarendon Press 1928), p. 257.

65. Adamson, 'Education', in Crump and Jacob, eds., Legacy of the Middle Ages, p. 262.

66. Adamson, 'Education', in Crump and Jacob, eds., Legacy of the Middle Ages, p. 258.

67. Adamson, 'Education', in Crump and Jacob, eds., Legacy of the Middle Ages, p. 257.

68. Lerner, Story of Libraries, p. 39.

69. Lerner, Story of Libraries, pp. 30-1.

70. Castle, Ancient Education and Today, p. 188.

71. R.H.C. Davis, A History of Medieval Europe from Constantine to St. Louis (Harlow, Longman 1988), p. 72.

Tags: Education, Philosophy, Roman Empire, Schools, Science

This entry was posted on April 4, 2008 at 8:29 pm and is filed under History.


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