Liberal arts

In classical antiquity, the liberal arts referred to the set of arts that a free person must know to participate in civic life. In modern times, the term generally refers to matters not relating to the professional, vocational, or technical curricula.


1   Matter

The liberal arts consists of seven subjects, divided into the trivium and the quadrivium.

1.1   Trivium

The trivium form the core of the liberal arts. They prepare students for studying the quadrivium.

  1. Logic
  2. Grammar
  3. Rhetoric

1.2   Quadrivium

Cicero expanded the liberal arts to include geometry, arithmetic_, astronomy_, and music.

2   Function

The aim of the liberal arts was to produce a virtuous, knowledgeable, and articulate person, capable of participating in civic life.

3   History

In Ancient Greece the liberal arts included participating in public debate, defending oneself in court, serving on juries, and most importantly, military service (slaves and resident aliens were by definition excluded from the duties and responsibilities of citizenship).

During medieval times, when learning came under the purview of the Church, these subjects (called the Trivium) were extended to include the four other classical subjects of arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy (which included the study of astrology). This extension was called the Quadrivium, and these well defined subjects originated during classical times. Together the Trivium and Quadrivium constituted the seven liberal arts of the medieval university curriculum.

In the Renaissance, the Italian humanists, who in many respects continued the grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the Middle Ages, rechristened the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name: Studia humanitatis, and also increased its scope. They excluded logic and added to the traditional Latin grammar and rhetoric not only history, Greek, and moral philosophy (ethics), but made poetry, once a sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole group.

in which the artist aims to elevate the understanding of others by illuminating the truth.

Liberal art manifests itself in literature as expositions, which we primarily read for instruction.