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Grammar . Logic . Rhetoric . Geometry . Arithmetic . Astronomy . Music
Andrew West traces the origin of the seven liberal arts that comprised the three arts of the
trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and the quadrivium (geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music) and describes their
evolution and consolidation up to the time of Alcuin (c. AD 740–804), the educational reformer under Charlemagne.
West pays special attention to those thinkers who shaped the development of the liberal arts, such as Augustine,
Martianus Capella, Boethius, Cassiodorus, and Isidore of Seville. This essay will present the reader with a
fundamental understanding of the seven liberal arts that formed the foundation for classical education then and
The Seven Liberal Arts opens in a new window
Mark Passio - The Trivium
The Trivium is a systematic method of critical thinking used to derive factual certainty from information perceived with the traditional five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. In the medieval university, the trivium was the lower division of the seven liberal arts, and comprised grammar, logic, and rhetoric (input, process, and output).
Etymologically, the Latin word trivium means "the place where three roads meet" (tri + via); hence, the subjects of the trivium are the foundation for the quadrivium, the upper division of the medieval education in the liberal arts, which comprised arithmetic (number), geometry (number in space), music (number in time), and astronomy (number in space and time).
Educationally, the trivium and the quadrivium imparted to the student the seven liberal arts of classical antiquity.
The trivium is implicit in the De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii ("On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury"), by Martianus Capella, although the term was not used until the Carolingian Renaissance, when the term was coined, in imitation of the earlier quadrivium.
Grammar, logic, and rhetoric were essential to a classical education, as explained in Plato's dialogues.
Together, the three subjects were included to and denoted by the word "trivium" during the Middle Ages, but the tradition of first learning those three subjects was established in ancient Greece.
Contemporary iterations have taken various forms, including those found in certain British and American universities (some being part of the Classical education movement) and at the independent Oundle School, in the United Kingdom.
The quadrivium (plural: quadrivia) are the four subjects, or arts, taught after teaching the trivium. The word is Latin, meaning "the four ways" (or a "place where four roads meet"), and its use for the four subjects has been attributed to Boethius or Cassiodorus in the 6th century. Together, the trivium and the quadrivium comprised the seven liberal arts (based on thinking skills), as opposed to the practical arts (such as medicine and architecture).
The quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. These followed the preparatory work of the trivium made up of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. In turn, the quadrivium was considered preparatory work for the serious study of philosophy (sometimes called the "liberal art par excellence") and theology.
These four studies compose the secondary part of the curriculum outlined by Plato in The Republic, and are described in the seventh book of that work (in the order Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Music.)
The quadrivium is implicit in early Pythagorean writings and in the De nuptiis of Martianus Capella, although the term "quadrivium" was not used until Boethius early in the sixth century.
As Proclus wrote:
The Pythagoreans considered all mathematical science to be divided into four parts: one half they marked off as concerned with quantity, the other half with magnitude; and each of these they posited as twofold. A quantity can be considered in regard to its character by itself or in its relation to another quantity, magnitudes as either stationary or in motion. Arithmetic, then, studies quantities as such, music the relations between quantities, geometry magnitude at rest, spherics [astronomy] magnitude inherently moving.
Welcome, One And All ...
Hello, and welcome to WhatOnEarthIsHappening.com, the official web site of Mark Passio. This body of work is a culmination of many years of my extensive research and investigation into the nature of our shared reality. Through my presentations, videos and podcasts, I take my guests on a journey of self-exploration, examining human Consciousness and the way it relates to the universal problems which we currently face as a species. Some of the questions I attempt to answer are:
Who are we? What is our purpose? Why do we hold certain beliefs? Why do we tend to see ourselves and others in a certain way? Why do we act the way we do toward ourselves and others? What does any of this have to do with the events we experience in our world?
Having successfully begun my work as a presenter of the message of spiritual awareness, I am now taking a pro-active approach to the task of spreading this significant information to others. This has resulted in What On Earth Is Happening, a penetrating analysis into the realm of human Consciousness.
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This page was last updated August 5th, 2020 by Kim.S
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