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Historia magistra antiquitatis: Cicero and Jesuit history teaching

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History teaching occupies a nebulous position within the early Jesuit colleges. While there was no autonomous history course, much history nonetheless seeped into the curriculum. The present article examines this problem by focusing on the place of Cicero within the colleges. Looking at the 1610 manual of André Schott, the Tullianae quaetiones de instauranda Ciceronis imitatione, it is shown that the Jesuit curriculum allowed a good deal of room for the teaching of history. Schott's manual propounded a programme of study intended to augment the sparse instructions set out in the 1599 Ratio studiorum. He advanced a late defence of Renaissance Ciceronianism on the one hand while appealing to contemporary antiquarian scholarship on the other. He had two primary targets: the contemporary vogue for the concise Latin style of Justus Lipsius, and the largely a historical teaching of Cicero carried out in many Protestant colleges. In conclusion, the fortune of this older, Renaissance vision of historical instruction infusing a wide spectrum of regular humanities teaching within the Italian, French, and German colleges of the Society of Jesus is assessed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1999


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