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Bill Thayer

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 p166  Athenaeum

Article by Alexander Allen, Ph.D.,
on p166 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

ATHENAEUM (ἀθήναιον), a school (ludus) founded by the Emperor Hadrian at Rome, for the promotion of literary and scientific studies (ingenuarum artium), and called Athenaeum from the town of Athens, which was still regarded as the seat of intellectual refinement. The Athenaeum was situated on the Capitoline hill.​a It was a kind of university; and a staff of professors, for the various branches of study, was regularly engaged. Under Theodosius II, for example, there were three orators, ten grammarians, five sophists, one philosopher, two lawyers, or jurisconsults. Besides the instruction given by these magistri, poets, orators, and critics were accustomed to recite their compositions there, and these prelections were sometimes honoured with the presence of the emperors themselves. There were other places where such recitations were made, as the Library of Trajan [Bibliotheca]; sometimes also a room was hired, and made into an auditorium, seats erected, &c. The Athenaeum seems to have continued in high repute till the fifth century. Little is known of the details of study or discipline in the Athenaeum, but in the constitution of the year 370, there are some regulations respecting students in Rome, from which it would appear that it must have been a very extensive and important institution. And this is confirmed by other statements contained in some of the Fathers and other ancient authors, from which we learn that young men from all parts, after finishing their usual school and college studies in their own town or province, used to resort to Rome as a sort of higher university, for the purpose of completing their education. (Aur. Vict. Caes. 14; Dion Cass. LXXIII.17; Capitolin. Pertin. 11, Gordian. Sen. 3; Lamprid. Alex. Sever. 35; Cod. Theod. 14 tit. 9 s1.)

Thayer's Note:

a The Athenaeum was situated on the Capitoline Hill: its location remains utterly unknown; see Platner's article (in the navigation bar below).

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