Education

   Until the sixth century, education in Byzantium (q.v.) was the traditional Greco-Roman education, which emphasized grammar and rhetoric, i.e., the ability to speak and write Greek well. Primary and secondary education (chiefly for boys) was accomplished by tutors who introduced classical literature, especially Homer (q.v.). Higher education was available in certain cities, e.g., Alexandria, Athens, Constantinople (established by Theodosios II in 425), and Gaza (qq.v.). There was a famous law school in Berytus (q.v.). The higher school at Constantinople (not a university in the western sense) was organized to train students for the state bureaucracy. Inevitably, an education based on pagan literature created tension in a society that was increasingly Christian. This explains why Justinian I (q.v.) closed the pagan school in Athens in 529. Amid the turmoil that followed Justinian I's reign, cities declined and the other great centers of higher education disappeared altogether. Higher education resurfaced in the ninth century when caesar Bardas (qq.v.) created a school in the Magnaura (q.v.), staffed with teachers the caliber of Leo the Mathematician (q.v.). Secondary education was also reorganized for the purpose of providing administrators to staff the state bureaucracy. Constantine VII (q.v.) reinvigorated higher education in the 10th century bringing students and professors together under his own patronage. In 1046-1047 a school of law and philosophy was organized in Constantinople by Constantine IX (q.v.), with John (VIII) Xiphilinos (q.v.) as its president (nomophylax [q.v.]). Xiphilinos was part of a circle of intellectuals that included Michael Psellos (q.v.), whose career as a professor of Neoplatonism (q.v.) demonstrates the tension that remained between secular and religious studies. Higher education for the clergy was established in 1107 when Alexios I Komnenos created the Patriarchal School (qq.v.). Numerous private tutors, supervised by the state, offered instruction. The capture of Constantinope in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade destroyed these institutions. After Constantinople was recovered in 1261 Michael VII (q.v.) created a school of philosophy (q.v.) headed by George Akropolites (q.v.). However, most schooling in the Palaiologan (q.v.) period was done through private schools and tutors. As one can see, medieval Byzantium never developed a university on the western model of an independent, self-governing corporation.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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