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THE USE OF ANTIQUITY FOR LIFE

 

THE OCCUPATIONS OF ANTIQUARIANS

Learning to Read

Feats of Scholarship

The Writing on the Wall

Epigraphy and Wanderlust

Cities and Men

The Currency of the Ancients

The Visual Image of Antiquity

THE AESTHETIC EDUCATION OF EUROPE

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

Portait of Joseph Scaliger, from Illustris academia Lugd-Batava

While fantasy played an important role in classical studies, the most vital element of antiquarian practice was scholarly diligence. Every antiquarian worthy of the name had a mastery of classical Latin and, after an uneasy start, Greek, and had read widely in the history, rhetoric, philosophy, and poetry of both languages. These textual sources provided a framework within which the other, material, remnants of antiquity could be integrated. Coins and inscriptions proved congenial to the textual approach. Sculpture and architecture were regarded with more suspicion by antiquarians, but were studied avidly by contemporary artists. Antiquarianism was not, however, a simple matter of consuming and repeating information. Extensive reflection on the material and literary remains of the long-dead gave rise to an ethical outlook that we today call "humanism." This was defined by the 20th-century art historian Erwin Panofsky as "the conviction of the dignity of man, based on both the insistence on human values (rationality and freedom) and the acceptance of human limitations (fallibility and frailty); from this, two postulates result - responsibility and tolerance."

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[Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections]