While the best sixteenth-century Renaissance scholars mastered the classics of ancient Roman literature in the original Latin and understood them in their original historical context, most of the scholars’ educated contemporaries knew the classics only from school lessons on selected Latin texts. These were chosen by Renaissance teachers after much deliberation, for works written by and for the sophisticated adults of pagan Rome were not always considered suitable for the Renaissance young: the central Roman classics refused (as classics often do) to teach appropriate morality and frequently suggested the opposite. Teachers accordingly made students’ needs, not textual and historical accuracy, their supreme interest, chopping dangerous texts into short phrases, and using these to impart lessons extemporaneously on a variety of subjects, from syntax to science. Thus, I believe that a modern reader cannot know the associations that a line of ancient Roman poetry or prose had for any particular educated sixteenth-century reader.
The passage is primarily concerned with discussing the
A) unsuitability of the Roman classics for the teaching of morality
B) approach that sixteenth-century scholars took to learning the Roman classics
C) effect that the Roman classics had on educated people in the Renaissance
D) way in which the Roman classics were taught in the sixteenth century
E) contrast between the teaching of the Roman classics in the Renaissance and the teaching of the Roman classics today
The information in the passage suggests that which of the following would most likely result from a student’s having studied the Roman classics under a typical sixteenth-century teacher?
A) The student recalls a line of Roman poetry in conjunction with a point learned about grammar.
B) The student argues that a Roman poem about gluttony is not morally offensive when it is understood in its historical context.
C) The student is easily able to express thoughts in Latin.
D) The student has mastered large portions of the Roman classics.
E) The student has a sophisticated knowledge of Roman poetry but little knowledge of Roman prose.
Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the assertion made in the passage concerning what a modern reader cannot know?
A) Some modern readers are thoroughly familiar with the classics of ancient Roman literature because they majored in classics in college or obtained doctoral degrees in classics.
B) Some modern readers have learned which particular works of Roman literature were taught to students in the sixteenth century.
C) Modern readers can, with some effort, discover that sixteenth-century teachers selected some seemingly dangerous classical texts while excluding other seemingly innocuous texts.
D) Copies of many of the classical texts used by sixteenth-century teachers, including marginal notes describing the oral lessons that were based on the texts, can be found in museums today.
E) Many of the writings of the best sixteenth-century Renaissance scholars have been translated from Latin and are available to modern readers.