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Form: sometimes rendered in Latin by litteratura.
Rome. After the middle of the 2nd century B.C., a lively interest in the history of literature and the study of language arose in Rome. It had been excited by the lectures on Greek authors given by Crates during his sojourn in Rome as ambassador (B.C. 159). Not only writers of repute, such as Accius and Lucilius, but men like Aelius Stilo, a member of the equestrian order, who was actively engaged in public life, took up these studies with eagerness. What was afterwards known of the primitive Latin language we owe mainly to Aelius Stilo. He was the master of the great encyclopaedist Marcus Terentius Varro, Cicero's contemporary. This great scholar left his mark on every department of philological research, and his writings were the storehouse from which the following generations mainly drew their information. Besides Varro, other men of mark occupied themselves with grammatical study in the Ciceronian age, notably Nigidius Figulus. Julius Caesar was the author of a treatise on accidence. There were numerous scholars in the Augustan age, among whom Verrius Flaccus and Hyginus deserve especial notice. In the 1st century A.D. we have Remmius Palaemon, Asconius Pedianus, Valerius Probus, and the elder Pliny. It was Remmius Palaemon who is mainly responsible for having made Vergil the Centre of scholastic instruction for the Latin world, as Homer was for the Greek. During the 2nd century, under Hadrian and the Antonines, we notice a revived interest in the older literature. This period is distinguished by the names of Suetonius, Terentitis Scaurus, and Aulus Gellius. Suetonius aspired to the many sided learning of Varro, and, like Varro, was much quoted by later writers. After this time the grammarians tend more and more to confine their studies to points of language, to abandon independent research, and to depend on the labours of their predecessors. The chief value of their writings consists in the fact that they have preserved some fragments of ancient learning. Their extracts are usually made for school purposes, and put together in artes, or manuals of accidence, orthography, prosody, and metre. Such are the books of Marius Victorinus, Donatus, Servius, Charisius, Diomedes, who are all assigned to the 4th Century A.D. Nonius Marcellus belongs to the same period. He is the author of a work (De Compendiosa Doctrina) which, though dreary and uncritical, is invaluable for the stores of old Latin which it has preserved. The 6th century is marked by the name of Priscian. We may further notice Terentianus Maurus, the author of a versified treatise on metre in the 3rd century; Macrobius, who in the 6th century composed a miscellany of antiquities called Saturnalia; and Isidore, Bishop of Seville, in the 7th century, whose Origines is the last work founded on a real study of ancient authorities.
Type: Standard
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