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a cultural term used in a variety of disciplines.

Originally “classic” was applied to the first order or “class,” the highest of the five census categories into which the citizens of ancient Rome were traditionally divided. Cicero was the first to use the word in the metaphoric sense of “elite.” It was first applied to literature by Aulus Gellius in the second century. Humanists of the Renaissance considered all the ancient writers, painters, sculptors, and architects to have been the “chosen” in literature and art and called them classics. The classicists used the words “classics” and “classical” in the same sense, applying it also to the contemporary artists working in the classical style.

The science based upon reading and explaining works of the authors of antiquity was given the name “classical philology” in the 17th and 18th centuries. During the Renaissance, a type of general secondary schooling developed that stressed the study of Latin and Greek—the “classical” languages—and antique, “classical” literature: this was called classical education. A special system of choreography, classical dance, with its own means of expression, emerged in the same period.

This was also the time when the idea of classics and classical as the best, the perfect, the ideal, the first of its kind, came into widespread use. Thus all the outstanding masters of literature and art whose work had lasting value not only for national but also for world culture were called classics—for example, Shakespeare, Raphael, Goethe, Mozart, Beethoven, Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. Classical art refers not only to the work of the ancient Greek classical artists (fifth-fourth century B.C.) or the High Renaissance of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, to which this term has been traditionally applied, but also to the art of particularly fruitful periods in the culture of a country, such as the classical literature of the eighth century in China or the classical opera of the 19th century in Russia.

Yet another semantic nuance is appropriate for the broad interpretation of the term; classics are the demonstrative, the characteristic, the representative, the typical. Thus, reference may be made to the “classical French novel of the 19th century,” meaning the realistic works of Stendhal, Balzac, or Flaubert, which determined the style of the epoch. The “classical Viennese operettas” will include the works of J. Strauss the Younger, F. Lehar, and I. Kalman. It is in this sense that the terms “classical manner” and “classical tradition” are used.

The adjective “classical” is frequently used as a synonym of “mature” and “complete.” Thus in his work Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, Marx directly identified the “full maturity” of the historical process with the “classical form” of the latter (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 13, p. 497). This interpretation also applies to such terms as “classical German philosophy,” “classical bourgeois political economy,” and the “classical school of criminal law.” The term “classical natural science” describes the level of scientific knowledge of nature (general principles, system of views, methods of investigation) before the scientific revolution of the 20th century, especially in those fields where basic concepts have since changed radically, for instance, classical mechanics or classical physics.

The term “classical,” apart from rendering the idea of “prototype” and of a perfect creation, can also contain the idea of the original, the programmatic, the pioneering. In this sense, phrases like “the classics of Marxism-Leninism” (Marx, Engels, and Lenin) or “the classics of natural science” (Newton, Darwin, Mendeleev, Pavlov, and Einstein) are used.


References in periodicals archive ?
Much of what Bernal faults in past classical scholarship could be labelled 'Orientalism', but instead he prefers the term 'anti-Semitism'.
Augustine; classical scholarship, Christian theology, and the origins of the Renaissance in Italy.
The reasons are partly because the main stream of classical scholarship ignores the eastern Mediterranean, and partly because much recent important scholarship in that area is in Hebrew, which cuts it off from all but a few.
Tudeau-Clayton also demonstrates that she has read broadly in the British and American scholarship in this area and that she thoroughly understands the traditions of classical scholarship, including the Virgilian commentaries and the work's complex textual history.
This book explores the challenges and opportunities presented to Classical scholarship by digital practice and resources.
This outburst of Latinity and classical scholarship, which even included a dispute over whether the word apparatus belongs to the second or the fifth declension, seemed an appropriate beginning for a conference on a subject--the origins of the universe-- that has fascinated scholars ever since classical times.
Among the issues examined is the role racism and anti-Semitism have played in classical scholarship, a debate into which Lefkowitz, who is Jewish, has been squarely, if not altogether fairly, thrust.
Through the example of his own analyses, he demonstrates that rigorous classical scholarship need be neither dry, elitist, and irrelevant (as the older attackers claim) nor spoiled by an infusion of contemporary approaches (as the more recent ones claim).
Nevertheless, it was Dover's book that brought the subject, and indeed the in-depth discussion of sexuality as a whole, out of the closet, so to speak, in classical scholarship worldwide.
Henri Estienne (1531-98) is known for his many contributions to the history of classical scholarship and early French literature.
The first reliable scholarly edition of these texts was presented in a minor jewel of nineteenth-century classical scholarship, Karl Otfried Muller's Geographi Graeci Minores, 2 vols.
In this valuable study, Bruce Winter draws upon a wealth of recent classical scholarship to provide a context for the behavior glimpsed in Pauline texts.

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