Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

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crates for the symposia of the Academy, and by Aristotle for those of the Lyce-
um. Banquets of this sort were also adoptf^d as a mode of celebrating the birth-
day and merr.ory of teachers and founders of the schools, or other distinguished
persons. The excellent dialogues of Plato and Xenophon, entitled Hv^jiTioQiov,
43 2F


and Xvfirtodiov ^i'Koaofuiv, the piece ascribed to Plutarch with the title 'ETtra co^CJp
tfvfiTtoacov, and the work of Athenasus styled ABLTtvono^'.arai,^ furnish the reader with
the best idea of this form of social entertainment among the wise men of Greece.

See Eschenbach^s Diss, de Symposiis sapieotum, in his Dissert. Academ. Norimb. 1795. 8. — Land. Quart. Rm. vol. xxiv.
p. 421 -Cf. P. IV. § 167.

§ 70. Among the Greeks, there were not, as in modem times, separate and
distinct learned professions, or faculties as they have been termed. The com-
pass and objects of knowledge were far less defined, and the studies and attain-
ments of the individual more miscellaneous. The study of the national language,
the constitution of the state, and the nature of man, constituted the main scope
of literary exertion; and whatever methods of discipline, whatever knowledo-e,
or whatever practical skill, could apparently subserve this, was received as an
important part of the common education of youth. There was constant occasion
to apply the general knowledge acquired to actual life, which interfered with
long or eager pursuit of theory and speculation in particular branches.

§ 71. In the system of mental training or education {rtaihtia rj irii -^vxfj), one
of the first parts was grammar. Although this had reference solely to the native
tongue, it was as yet a study comprehending much more than is now usually
understood by the term. The art of speaking and writing correctly, which was
made a primary thing in the Grecian system, was termed Fpannat ianxri, and
the teacher, rpaaaartar?;?. But under Fpaix/natLxyj, or grammar, was included
not only a knowledge of the language, but also something of poetry, eloquence,
and history, and even the elements of philosophy, at least in its applications to
these branches; and the teachers, who were called grammarians, Tpa^^iartzot,
imparted this various instruction. Plato especially called the attention of the
Greeks to the necessity and utility of such knowledge. The usual division of
grammar, in its more appropriate sense, was into two parts; fii^obixTj, which
presented the rules and principles, and iljyyjjrix^, which explained the nature
and meaning of words and phrases.

See C. D. Beck's Commentar. de literis et aucloribus Graec. atqiie Laf. Lips. 17S9. S. p. 47.

§ 7-2. A very favorite study of the Greeks was philosophy. The name of
philosophy was originally applied to all inquiries about the nature of the Deity,
the origin and destiny of men, and the phenomena and powers of the physical
world. Afterwards the consideration of physical topics was in a considerable
degree excluded. It was a special effort of Socrates to direct the investigations
of philosophy to the various subjects of morals and religion, to questions of
private and public virtue and right. A glance at the several sects and schools of
Greek philosophy will be given (P. V. § 16S, ss.), when we speak of the his-
tory of literature, and the principal writers. But this is a proper place to notice
an important distinction made among tlie philosophers, between their exoteric
and esoteric doctrines, %6yoi ilwrfpt-jcot, and i^uttf^ixbi. The exoteric compre-
hended only the principles and precepts, which they taught publicly to all their
hearers and the people (SjyuwSfj) ; the esnferic included also their secret views
and maxims (d;t6p,'*;T'a), which were disclosed only to their particular disciples
and adepts, and upon which in public, both orally and in their writings, they
expressed themselves obscurely in enigmatic and figurative language.

The custom of the Greek philosophers in thus teaching a double doctrine seems to
have been borrowed from the praciice of the Egyptian pries's. It is said that the
Magi of Persia and the Druids of Gaul had also their external and internal doctrine.

See (Varburton, Div. Legal, of Moses, (as cited § 12. 3,) vol. i. p. 324.

§ 73. Various methods of giving instruction were employed by the philoso-
phers. The one most adapted to their object was, without much doubt, the
dialogistic, the form of an actual dialogue between the teacher and pupil. The
philosopher beginning with the simplest and most obvious truths or admitted
principles, advanced step by step with his disciple, hearing and answering his
questions and doubts, and thus conducting him imperceptibly to a conviction of
what the master would teach. This manner was first used by Zeno of Elea,
but was improved by Socrates into a regular and skillful art, and is thence called
the Sociatic method. The method, however, was employed chiefly with such
disciples as were supposed to have already acquired the first elements of phi-


losophy, and to be now prepared to pursue investigations of truth, in common
with their teacher. Plato adopts this dialogistic form in his writings. Other
methods were used, however, in philosophical instructions, as the eristic
(spiGTtxrJ, the syllogistic, and the mathematical.

§ 74. The first and most celebrated public school at Athens was the Academy
(\\xa8r;uia), a building which belonged to the Ceramicus (Kfpa,u.ftx6j), without
the proper limits of the city, surrounded by a grove with shady walks. Plato
was the first teacher here, and was succeeded by various disciples, who, from
the place of instruction, received the name of Academics. The Lyceum,
(Avxsiov), the school of Aristotle, was an enclosure on the banks of the llyssus,
also without the proper city, and sacred to Apollo; as Aristotle and his succes-
sors were accustomed to give instruction in the place for walking (TtfptTtaroj),
they were called the Peripatetics. Another building in the suburbs of Athens,
called Cynosarges (Kwoaapyrji), and originally a gymnasium or school for the
bodily exercises, was the place where philosophy was taught by Antisihenes
and his followers; and this, without regard to their doctrines, may have given
them the name of Cynics. Within the limits of the city was the celebrated
portico, called Pcecile {YlotxiXr;), from its various paintings, and, by way of
eminence, ihe Stoa(2toa); here Zeno from Cyprus opened his school, and
thus attached to his disciples the appellation of Stoics. The garden of Epi-
curus should also be mentioned here, as it was in this, his own private retreat,
that he taught his disciples, who are thence sometimes called philosophers of
the garden. After Greek philosophy was transplanted to Alexandria, the Mu-
seum (Mov6Ecov), in the part of the city called Bruchion, was famous as the
place where instruction was given by numerous teachers (^auditorium).

Besides these public schools of philosophy, there were at Athens common schools,
established at an earlier period by Solon, in which elementary instruction was given
in the difierent branches of education. The schools of the sophists must be distin-
guished from both. (Cf. P. V. ^ 108.)

§ 75 u. The teachers in these and other schools among the Greeks, enjoyed un-
limited freedom in the expression of their views and principles, both upon theological
and philosophical subjects. The government provided for the external management
and discipline of the schools (§ 64), and some regulations on this subject are found in
the laws of Polon. The teachers were constantly attentive to the preservation of this
discipline. The rigid disciphne, especially of the Lacedaemonians, in their early edu-
cation, was celebrated in ancient times, although it was sometimes more severe than
judicious ; as, for instance, in the annual scourging i,SiaixacTiyoiais) of boys at the
altar of Diana Orthia.

See Cragii (Crai?), de Rep. Laced. \160.~Potter, Arcti. Graec. bk. ii. cti. 20.— MaiUr, Hist, and Ant. Doric Race, bk. ii. eh. 9.
§ 6.~Manso, Sparta, i. 2, p. 183 —F. H. G. Schwartz, Erziehungslehre— (Geschiclile der Erziehung). 1829. Vol. i. p. 231-430.
H^achUr, Geschichte dcr Liter. Vol. i. p. 105.

§ 76 t. Among the means of promoting knowledge enjoyed by the Greeks, we
must mention their libraries, some of which are celebrated in history.

1 21. The first considerable collection of books {^ifikioemrf) at Athens was made by
Fisislratus. This collection is said to have been borne away with other booty by
Xerxes on his capture of that city, and to have been restored by Seleucus Nicator,
king of Syria. Sylla gained possession of it when he took the city of Athens, B. C.
85, and removed it to Rome.

2 u. Another library of much value is said to have been gathered by Aristotle, aided
by the mimificence of Alexander, which also, after many accidents, according to the
account of Strabo, fell into the hands of Sylla at the same time, and was carried to

3 u. King Attalus and his son Eumenes collected a large library at their capital Per-
gamus. Ihis contained 200,000, and according to some statements, 300.000 volumes,
most of which were conveyed to Egypt, and being added, by Cleopatra or Antony,
to the still more famous library of Alexandria, finally shared in its miserable fate.

4. The library of Alexandria, the most celebrated of ancient times, was commenced
by Ptolemy Piuiadelphus, and numbered amorg its keepers various distinguished
Greeks, as Demetrius Phalereus, Callimachus. Eratosthenes, Apollonius Rhodius,
and Aristophanes of Byzantium. It suffered repeated disasters and losses, and was
again improved and enlarged ; the largest number of volumes mentioned as belong-
ing to h is about 700.000 (Anh Gell. vi. 17); the library in the Bruchion containing
about 400,000, and that in the Serapeion containing about 150,000. (cf % 126. 2.^
Different accounts are given of its final destruction, some ascribing it to the r>Jstaken


zeal of Christians in the time of Theodosius the Great, and others, to the fury of the
Saracens under Omar, A. D. 642.

5. There was also at Constantinople a large library of Latin and Greek authors,
commenced probably by Constantius, the son of Constantine, and greatly augmented
by Julian. Its contents gradually increased to 120,000 volumes. It was finally, with
valuable collections in the arts, commuted to the flames amid the dissensions in the
time of Zeno and Basiliscus or Basilices, about A. D. 477. ,

Respecting these libraries, see Heeren') Gesciiichte des Stud, der class. Liierat, as cited § a'i.—Wachler, Gesehichte der Lilerat.
i. p. 1(5, 173. This author expresses some doubt respecting the library said to have existed in the age of Pisislratus.— i'elit Radd,
Cited § \i2.—Htyne^ de Interitu Operum arlis priscse etc in Commenlat. Soc GCtt. vol. xii.— C/i. D. Beck, Specimen HislorijE
Bibliothecanim Alexandrinarum. Lpz. 1779. 4. — C Reinhard, (iber die jUngsten Schicksale der Alex. Bibliothek. — F. G. IVelcker
and Jl. F. N'dh£, Rheinisches Museum filr Philologie. Bonn, 1833. 8. No. 1. — Btmamy, La Bioliolheque d'Alexandrie. Mem.
Acad. Inscr. ix. 397.— iond. Quart. Reo- xvi. 329.— Giifcon, Decl. and F. Rom. Emp. cb. 51. — See also an account ol an Athenian
Library in Barthelemy's Anacharsis, ch. xxix.

§ 77. Although the Greeks were exceedingly jealous of their national honor,
and were especially solicitous to secure to their literature the merit and praise
of being an original possession carried to perfection by native resources, yet
they did not wholly reject the advantage resulting from acquaintance with the
arts and sciences of other lands. They frequently traveled in those countries
which were most distinguished for their advancement in knowledge, especially
in Egypt. To the latter the Greeks were much indebted in matters pertaining
to intellectual culture, as well as in reference to their civil and religious institu-
tions. Nor did the Greeks neglect domestic travel ; they were accustomed to
visit the most distinguished provinces, regions and cities, to gain personal know-
ledge of what might be curious or useful, and their observations were sometimes
committed to writing. By such travels at home and in foreign lands, most of
the distinguished men of Greece sought to increase and perfect their attainments.
Here might be named, as instances. Homer, Lycurgus, Thales, Pythagoras,
Solon, Herodotus, Anaxagoras, Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Polybius, Strabo,
Pausanias, and many others.

See Francii Exercitat. Acad, de peregrinatione veterum sapientium, eruditionis ergo suscepta. Lips. 1679. 4.

IV. — Of the decline of Greek Literature.

§ 78. From its brilliant state previous to the time of Alexander, Greek litera-
ture gradually declined. Among the causes were the increasing luxury and
consequent effeminacy and remissness of the people, and the various internal-
political commotions, which followed the death of Alexander. In fact, the de-
clension began with the first loss of their independence under the supremacy of
Philip. And when at last they became a prey to Roman ambition, at the fall
of Corinth, and when, somewhat later, Athens herself was plundered, partially
at least, of her stores of learning and art by Sylla, the Greeks, by being wholly
deprived of liberty, were bereft of their highest motives to exertion. Their
native vigor and originality no longer showed itself, except in a few single
efforts, and finally sunk prostrate under foreign oppression and domestic corrup-

§ 79. It is worthy of remark, that the knowledge and use of the Greek language
was greatly extended after the conquests of Alexander. Many cities were buih by
him in the east, which v/ere inhabited chiefly by Greeks. Before the time of Christ
the language had become familiar throughout Palestine. The Latin writers bear
ample testimony to the general diffusion of Greek. The words of Cicero are, Grceca
leszunhir in omnibus fere gentihus. The Romans were obhged to adopt this for their
official language in the eastern provinces. Even when the seat of the Roman govern-
ment was removed to Constantinople, and a special effort was made to introduce the
Latin, it was but partially successful. The emperor Justinian found it necessary to
publish his Institutes, Code and Pandects, in Greek, as well as Latin, because the
latter was so imperfectly understood by his subjects and civilians. — In the fourth cen-
tury the Greek language seems to have been employed to some extent in Nubia and

See Gihlatih Rom. Emp. ch. liii. fvol v. p. 364, N. York, 1 822 )— ff/me's IntroJuction to the Study of the Scrip, vol. u. P. ii
h i. 5 2.— Zetronne, as cited \ 92. o. Mtm. de Vlnst. &c. ix. p. 170.— The Byzantine Greek was corrupted by the inierniixture of


macy words from (he Latin lad other languages.— See Ducange, Diss, de causis corruptse Graecitatis.— Gii/fcoJi, Hist. ch. Uvi. (vol.
vi. p. 26l.)-Schai, Litt. Gr. L. vi. ch. Ixxi.— Cf. § 92. 5.

^ 80. From the period whence we dale the decHne of Greek literature it appears
less national in it.s character. This probably was not owing wholly to the circum-
stance that the Greeks were no longer their own masters. Something must be
allowed for the fact, that the literature of the subsequent periods was not the growth
of the naiive soil of Greece, but the product of places without her proper limits, and
remote trom the scene of her early struggles and successes. It was chiefly at Rhodes,
Pergamus and Alexandria, that letters were cultivated. Athens was no longer the
capital and mistress of the literary world ; although for a long tiine after her submis-
sion to Rome her schools were the resort of youth for completing their education.
Even in this respect, however, she had rivals. ApoUonia on the shore of the Ha-
driaiic was celebrated for its cultivation of Greek Hierature, and honored as the place
where Augustus finished his studies. Massilia in Gaul, now Marseilles, a Httle later
gained still greater celebrity for its schools of science. Antioch, Berytus, and Edessa
may also be mentioned as places where Greek was studied after the Christian era.

See SchCU, Hist. Litt.XJr. livre v. ch. 50.— Htatn'a Gesch. des Stud, der griech. und rom. Lit. § 28. as cited § 53.

§ 81. At different times during the decline of Greek letters, royal and imperial
patronage was not wanting. Very liberal encouragement was afforded by some of the
first Ptolemies at Alexandria to all the arts and studies, especially by Philadelphus.
At Pergamus, also, great efforts were made by Attains and Eumenes to foster learn-
ing. Among the Roman emperors, likewise, there were patrons of Greek literature.
Under the Antonini there was a little fresh blooming both in Greek and Roman
letters ; and Aurehus Antoninus especially befriended the cultivation of philosophy
and bestowed privileges upon Athens. Julian the Apostate cultivated and patronized
Greek studies, and allowed considerable stipends to teachers in the schools of pagan
philosophy. He is said to have erected at Constantinople the royal portico, where
was lodged the hbrary already mentioned (§ 76), and where also was established a
sort of college for giving instruction in the arts and sciences. At a later period some
emulation was awakened among the Greek scholars in the east by the zeal and in-
quiries of the Arabian Caliphs, who were liberal patrons of learning, especially at

See Gihhoii, Hist. Rom. Emp. ch. liii. (vol. v. p. 367, ed. cit.) — Heertn, Gesch. des Stud, der griech. und rOm. Liter. § 70. —
Bi.riiizton, Literary History of the Middle"^ges. Lond. 1814. 4. Appendix \.—Schlosser, as cited P. V. § 127. 1.

§ 82.* In speaking of the circumstances connected with the decline of Greek
literature, the suppression of the philosophical and rhetorical schools at Athens,
by the Emperor Justinian, is usually mentioned and lamented.

These schools had existed from the time of Socrates and Plato. In them the most
distinguished philosophers and rhetoricians had taught numerous disciples native and
foreign. While sustained, they kept alive a taste and love for Greek literature and phi-
losophy. They were only partially interrupted by the subjection of Athens to Rome,
and afterwards were warmly supported by some of the Roman emperors, particularly by
Julian, who, as has just been mentioned, allowed a stipend to the teachers of them.
Had.ian also is said to have furnished them with the means of procuring books. But
they were entirely suppressed by Justinian, A. D. 529 ; not, it is said, because he was
hostile to schools or philosophy ; but because the teachers opposed his efforts to extu:-
pate paganism. Damascius, Simplicius, and other philosophers were obhged to leave
Athens, and fled to the protection of Chosroes king of Persia.

Although Greek hterature had been declining for many centuries, and these schools
had not hindered its wane, still their suppression probably hastened the entire oblivion
into which it soon fell in the west : because after this event there was less literary inter-
course between the west and the east.

See Enfield's History of Philosophy, B. ii. ch. ii. (vol. ii. p. 327. Dubl. 1792.)— Gifcion's Hist. Rom. Emp. ch. il. 7. (vol. iv»
p. 90. N. York, \S22.)—Meursius. Fortuna Attica, ch. viii. p. 59. in his Opera, T. i.—RUter, History of Philosophy, as cited P. V
5 183. i.—Ncander, Kirchengeschichle, bk. ii. Abtb. i.

§ 83.* The essential and fundamental contrariety of the Christian religion to
the whole spirit of pagan philosophy and mythology, is a circumstance proper
here to be noticed. It was not at all strange that Christians should neglect to
study the pagan writings, except as they wished to arm themselves for the de-
fence of their own faith.

1. Opposition to the cultivation of heathen literature early appeared, but there was
not perfect agreement among the Fathers on the subject. The council of Carthage,
A. iD. 398, formally condemned it. Yet many distinguished Fathers recommended the
study of Greek learning. Basil wrote a treatise in favor of it (cf. P. V. § 292 2).
Origen carefully taught it, and was applauded for the same by one of the most eminent
of his disciples, Gregory Thaumaturgus. Chrysostom and Gregory of Nazianzen also
advocated this study. Indeed the Eastern or Greek Church as a body appears to have

2 f2


been inclined to favor it, while the Western or Latin Churdi was strongly opposed to
it. There was, nevertheless, a general disrehsh for every thing connected with pagan-
ism, which would naturally tend to accelerate the growmg neglect of the productions of
Grecian literature.

The Christians had their seminaries designed for the education of the maturer class of
youth, and such especially as w^ere to become religious teachers. But the sacred Scrip,
tures were the basis of instruction.

See Enfield's Hist. Phil. bk. vi. ch. ii. (p. 276, ed. cited above.)— Mojftft'm'j Ecc. Hist, by Murdoch, vol. i. p. 100.— ff. Hallam't
View of Eurrpe in the Middle Ages, ch. ix.—Prof. R. Emerson, On the Catechetical School, or Theological Seminary, at Alexan.
dria. Bibi. R:pos. No. x\\i.—Tzschimer, Der Fall des Heidentbums.— A^conder'j Chrysostomus, p. G.—Ullmann's Gregorius von
Nazianzen, p. 22.

2. Nothing in the above remarks implies that Christianity has been in its influence
unfavorable to the progress of the mind. On the contrary it has unspeakably elevated
the human intellect, and advanced, on the whole, more than any other cause, the inte-
rests of science and hterature. It proposed and has accomplished a mighty mental revo-
lution, opening wider and more extensive channels of thought, imparting keener sensi-
biUty to the feelings of the heart, and giving ample scope to all the noble energies of
man. The happy results of this will go on accumulating to the end of the world.

On the influence of Christianity upon Society, see Christ. Spect. vol. v. p. 409. — On its influence upon Literature, see Schle^eJ'B
Hist Lit. (lectures 4 and 6.)— Christ. Spect. vol. vl. p. 57.— See also, on the whole subject, C. yuiers. Essay on the Reformation by
Luther, (with Introduction by Dr. S. Miller.) Phil. 1834. 8.

§ 84.* The great loss of classical manuscripts after the Christian era, is
justly regretted by all. The chief source of this loss was the destruction of
the great libraries, which has been previously mentioned (§ 76). The destruc-
tion of the Alexandrian library was especially felt, because it was in connection
with this library that the greatest establishment for copying and multiplying
manuscripts had existed. (Cf. § 58.)

1. There were other causes that contributed to diminish the number of classical manu-
scripts. — Vriwate hostiliry to the writings of particular aulhora occasioned some losses.
It was a custom both with the Greeks and the Romans, to sentence the writings of in-
dividual authors to the flames, as a kind of punishment, or to hinder the circulation of
objectionable sentiments. The practice was adopted in the Christian Church. In the
middle ages, this hostility was in some instances directed against classical authors, and
different emperors of Constantinople are said to have been induced to burn the existing
copies of several of the ancient poets.

Some loss also may be ascribed io private negligence a?id ignorance, ii we may con-
jecture from the statement, which asserts that'three of the lost decades of Livy were
once made into rackets for the use of a monastery.

"A page of the second decade of Livy, it is said, was found by a man of letters in the parch-
ment of his battledore, whilst he was amusing himself in the country. He hastened to the
maker of the battledore, but arrived too late ; the man had finished the last page of Livy about
a week before." D' Israeli, Curiosities of Literature, vol. i. — Land. Quart. Rev. xvi. 32.3.

2. Another way, in which such losses occurred, was by obliteration. The papyrus
becoming very difficult to procure after Egypt fell into the hands of the Saracens, in tiie
7th century, and parchment being thereby rendered more costly even than before, copy-
ists very naturally began to seek some remedy. They adopted the expedient of obiiie-
rating the writing of an old manuscript. The parchment, after the obliteration, was
used again, and thus the manuscript, which originally contained perhaps some valuable

Online LibraryJohann Joachim EschenburgManual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions → online text (page 70 of 153)