Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No 'Gold' and 'Silver' in the Middle Ages

'Instruction in grammar...comprised language and literature. The selection of authors studied in the medieval schools includes pagan and Christian writers. The Middle Ages makes no distinction between "gold" and "silver" Latinity. The concept "classical" is unknown to it. All authors are, as it were, authorities. Let us examine a number of medieval documents as to curriculum authors. When Walter of Speyer was in school about 975, he read Virgil, "Homer" (that is, the so-called Ilias Latina, a crude condensation of the Iliad in 1070 hexameters, of the first century A.D.), Martianus Capella, Horace, Persius, Juvenal, Boethius, Statius, Terence, Lucan. This is not a casual selection, it is a normative one. It recurs as the basis of later lists.'

--E.R. Curtius, from European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, tr. Willard R. Trask, pp. 48-9

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