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The Classical Roots in Medieval Education and Knowledge (Medium)

The early Middle Ages of European history presents us with a dramatic changing cultural landscape to examine and explore. The most drastic of all the changes occurring in this period, starting at about 400 C.E to about 1,050 is the Christianization of the continent. The shift in religious affiliation, theological perspectives which accompany it had long last repercussions on all aspects of life; education and knowledge are the primary targets of this essay’s investigation — what became of the classical tradition in the Middle Ages? How did the Christians of the Latin West and the Greek East handle the classical materials in their new paradigm?


In chronological fashion, this investigation begins with the Greek and Roman education models. An emphasis will be given towards Late Antiquity as it directly brushes up against the early Middle Ages and is informative towards the discussion of the transition from Antiquity and the early Middle Ages proper.


In antiquity, the term used to discuss ‘education’ uses the Greekpaideia(Grk. Παιδεία). The word refers to the rearing or upbringing of a child, their training and teaching.[1]Speaking of paideiain Plato’sLaws, an unnamed Athenian in dialogue with the Cretan Clinias says, “…you are putting a general question as to what solid advantage the State gains from the education of the educated (ὅλως ἐρωτᾷς παιδείαν τῶν παιδευθέντων, τί μέγα τὴν πόλιν ὀνίνησιν), then it is quite simple to reply that well-educated men will prove good men (ὅτι παιδευθέντες μὲν εὖ γίγνοιντ᾿ ἂν ἄνδρες ἀγαθοί), and being good they will conquer their foes in battle, besides acting nobly in other ways.”


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