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The Worlds of Aulus Gellius$
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Leofranc Holford-Strevens and Amiel Vardi

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264827.001.0001

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Gellian Humanism Revisited

Gellian Humanism Revisited

(p.206) 8 Gellian Humanism Revisited
The Worlds of Aulus Gellius

Stephen M. Beall

Oxford University Press

This chapter rehabilitates René Marache's concept of ‘Gellian humanism’, asking what it consists in and what core values motivated the Attic Nights' composition. By examining Gellius' insistence on the utility of knowledge for the conduct of life, his ‘Socratic’ accent on the manner as well as the object of investigation — due perhaps to his sympathy for the Academy and Scepticism — and his view of memory and effective eloquence not only as tools but as the marks of a higher intellect, it shows how Gellius invites his readers to a superior and more respectable lifestyle, of which both toil and pleasure are integral constituents. ‘Gellian humanism’ is thus a certain attitude towards the formative power of the liberal arts, not a philosophical, political, or even educational programme. Gellius' ideal is the erudite layman (homo civiliter eruditus), for whom learning is valuable in its possession and enjoyment, not merely in its application.

Keywords:   Marache, Attic Nights, academy, scepticism, memory, eloquence, toil, pleasure, utility, liberal arts

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