Sunday, March 21, 2004

The texts of the Anglo-Saxon schools included the Evangelia of Juvencus, the Carmen and Opus Paschale of Sedulius and Arator's De Actibus apostolorum together with other works from the corpus of Christian Latin literature. Virgil's Aeneid was also widely known and quoted, as well as the work of other classical writers such as Lucian and Persius; it is an impressive list for scholars of any period, but it direct evidence for the beginning of "classics" in the English educational system. It is often remarked, with some surprise, that the administrators and politicians of the nineteenth century were accustomed to take quotations from, and make allusions to, the authors of classical antiquity. Yet as early as the seventh century the English bishops and abbots, who were the true administrators of the nation, were equally capable of making reference to Ovid, Virgil, Cicero, Pliny and others. There, again, is a continuity.

Peter Ackroyd, Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination (37)

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