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  • Frances Foster (a1)

Roman magistri and grammatici taught their students a wide range of subjects, primarily through the medium of Latin and Greek literary texts. A well-educated Roman in the Imperial era was expected to have a good knowledge of the literary language of Cicero and Virgil, as well as a competent command of Greek. By the late fourth and early fifth centuries, this knowledge had to be taught actively, as everyday Latin usage had changed during the intervening four centuries. After the reign of Theodosius the division between the Eastern and the Western Empires meant that knowledge of Greek was no longer as common as it had once been in the West. At the same time, by Late Antiquity, migration increased and foreigners as well as provincials moved within the empire, for example, in search of military promotion. There is evidence that recruitment to official or public careers was based less on birth than on education. These ambitious newcomers sent their children to Roman schools, which would facilitate their access to public office. Receipt of this education provided a means by which men from less privileged backgrounds could achieve promotion to such office and become prominent and influential individuals. At the same time a late Roman education also produced a high level of cultural homogeneity among those who had experienced it. So what might we learn about how language was taught—and what kinds of language were valued—in a late-antique Roman school? How might this contribute to our understanding of late-antique Roman elite society?

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1 Horrocks, G., Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers (Chichester, 2010), 196.

2 Cameron, Averil, ‘Education and literary culture’, in Cameron, Averil and Garnsey, P. (edd.), The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume xiii: The Late Empire, A.D. 337–425 (Cambridge, 1998), 665707 , at 675.

3 Morgan, T., Literate Education in the Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (Cambridge, 1998), 190.

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6 Cameron (n. 2), 673.

7 Horrocks (n. 1), 126.

8 Marrou, H., A History of Education in Antiquity (Wisconsin, 1956).

9 Kaster, R., ‘Notes on ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ education in Late Antiquity’, TAPhA 113 (1983), 323–46, at 346.

10 Clackson, J. and Horrocks, G. (edd.), The Blackwell History of the Latin Language (Oxford, 2007), 265.

11 Adams, J.N., Social Variation and the Latin Language (Cambridge, 2013), 821 and 374.

12 Leonhardt, J., Latin: Story of a World Language (Cambridge, MA, 2013), 94.

13 Cribiore, R., Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton, 2001), 42.

14 R. Cribiore (n. 13), 27.

15 Dionisotti, A.C., ‘From Ausonius' schooldays? A schoolbook and its relatives’, JRS 72 (1982), 83125 , at 120.

16 Dickey, E., The Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana: Volume 1 (Cambridge, 2012), 3.

17 Cribiore, R., The School of Libanius in Late-Antique Antioch (Princeton, 2007), 35–6.

18 Browning, R., ‘Education in the Roman empire’, in Cameron, Averil, Ward-Perkins, B. and Whitby, M. (edd.), The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume xiv: Late Antiquity: Empire and Successors, a.d. 425–600 (Cambridge, 2000), 859.

19 Kaster, R., Guardians of Language: The Grammarian and Society in Late Antiquity (California, 1988), 177.

20 Marrou (n. 8), 279.

21 Foster, F., ‘Reconstructing Virgil in the classroom in Late Antiquity’, History of Education: Journal of the History of Education Society 43 (2014), 285303 .

22 Rawson, B., Children and Childhood in Roman Italy (Oxford, 2003), 165.

23 Cribiore, R., ‘Spaces for teaching in Late Antiquity’, in Derda, T., Markiewicz, T. and Wipszycka, E. (edd.), Alexandria: Auditoria of Kom el-Dikka and Late-Antique Education (The Journal of Juristic Papyrology, Supplement 8) (Warsaw, 2007), 143–50, at 144.

24 Bonner, S., Education in Ancient Rome: From the Elder Cato to the Younger Pliny (Routledge, 1977), 34.

25 Cribiore, R., Writing, Teachers and Students in Greco-Roman Egypt (Atlanta, 1996), 173.

26 Bruggisser, P., ‘City of the outcast and city of the elect: the Romulean asylum in Augustine's City of God and Servius’ Commentaries on Virgil’, in Vessey, M., Pollmann, K. and Fitzgerald, A.D. (edd.), History, Apocalypse and the Secular Imagination: New Essays on St Augustine's City of God (Bowling Green State, 1999), 90 and Cameron, Alan, ‘The date and identity of Macrobius’, JRS 56 (1966), 2538 , at 37.

27 Murgia, C., ‘The dating of Servius revisited’, CPh 98 (2003), 4569 .

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29 Thilo, G. and Hagen, H. (edd.), Servii Grammatici qui feruntur in Vergilii carmina commentarii (Leipzig, 1881).

30 Rand, E.K. et al. (edd.), Servianorum in Vergilii carmina commentariorum editionis Harvardianae volumen: In Aeneidos libros 1 et 2 explanationes (Cambridge, MA, 1946), and Stocker, A.F. and Travis, A.H. (edd.), Servianorum in Vergilii carmina commentariorum editionis Harvardianae volumen: quod in Aeneidos libros 3–5 explanationes continet (Cambridge, MA, 1965).

31 Jeunet-Mancy, E., Servius: Commentaire sur l'Enéide de Virgile, Livre VI (Paris, 2012).

32 C. Murgia, ‘Why is the APA/Harvard Servius?: Editing Servius’, Whither the APA/Harvard Servius? Panel at the Annual Meeting of the APA, 5 January 2004. Online:, p. 2.

33 Marshall, P.K., Servius and Commentary on Virgil (Occasional Papers 5, cmrs) (Asheville, NC, 1997), 20, following Lockhart, P., The Literary Criticism of Servius (New Haven, CT, 1959).

34 Clackson and Horrocks (n. 10), 92.

35 Dickey, E. and Chahoud, A. (edd.), Colloquial and Literary Latin (Cambridge, 2010).

36 D. Shanzer, ‘The tale of Frodebert's tail’, in Dickey and Chahoud (n. 35), 377.

37 Laes, C. and Strubbe, J.H.M., Kleine Romeinen: Jonge Kinderen in het Antieke Rome (Amsterdam, 2006), 91.

38 Levy, H.L., ‘Servius in his classroom’, CJ 67 (1971), 167–74, at 169.

39 Levy (n. 38), 170.

40 Adams, J.N., ‘A typological approach to Latin word order’, Indogermanische Forschungen 81 (1976), 7099 .

41 Liebeschuetz, J.H.W.G., Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom (Oxford, 1990), 8.

42 Lee, A.D., ‘The army’, in Cameron, Averil and Garnsey, P. (edd.), The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume xiii: The Late Empire, A.D. 337–425 (Cambridge, 1998), 211–37, at 223.

43 Lewis and Short s.v. (p. 2015).

44 Niemeyer, J.F., Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus (Leiden, 1976), 1118.

45 Meyer-Lübke, W., Romanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (Heidelberg, 1935 3).

46 Lewis and Short s.v. (p. 1761).

47 OLD s.v. (p. 1822).

48 Niemeyer (n. 44), 994.

49 Meyer-Lübke (n. 45), 683.

50 TLL 2.1711.21.

51 Lewis and Short s.v. (p. 221).

52 Niemeyer (n. 44), 79.

53 Meyer-Lübke (n. 45), 75.

54 Cameron (n. 2), 666.

55 Racine, F., ‘Servius' Greek lessons’, in Archibald, E., Brockliss, W., Gnoza, J. (edd.), Learning Latin and Greek from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge, 2015), 63.

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