Monday, July 20, 2015

The Seven Liberal Arts

Marten de Vos Seven (1532-1603) The Seven Liberal Arts 1590

In the 5C AD or CE, Martianus Capella defined the seven Liberal Arts as: grammar, dialectic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, & astronomy.  Based on the types of studies that were pursued in the Classical world, the Seven Liberal Arts became codified in late antiquity by such writers as Varro & Martianus Capella. In medieval times, the Seven Liberal Arts offered a canonical way of depicting the realms of higher learning.  The Liberal Arts were divided into the Trivium ("the three roads") & the Quadrivium ("the four roads").  The Trivium consisted of: Grammar; Rhetoric; Logic; The Quadrivium consisted of: Arithmetic -- Number in itself; Geometry -- Number in space; Music, Harmonics, or Tuning Theory -- Number in time; Astronomy or Cosmology -- Number in space & time.

The Seven Liberal Arts, Print made by Dietrich Meyer (1572-1658)

The liberal arts (Latin: artes liberales) are those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person (Latin: liberal, "worthy of a free person") to know in order to take an active part in civic life, something that (for Ancient Greece) included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, & most importantly, military service. Grammar, rhetoric, & logic were the core liberal arts, while arithmetic, geometry, the theory of music, & astronomy also played a (somewhat lesser) part in education.

Giovanni di Ser Giovanni Guidi (1406-1486) Lo Scheggia or The Seven Liberal Arts