Reading Poets at the Grammar School in Late Antiquity: the Scholia on Lucan

Raffaella Tabacco

In a meeting which aims to study changing concepts of education, starting from older models in late antiquity and focusing in particular on Latin as the language shared across Europe throughout the centuries, it is especially interesting to examine how the school was preparing the élite during the final centuries of the Roman Empire. Grammar school, where poets were read and explained both on level of language and that of content, is the best kind of lens to perceive what kind of culture was required from an imperial official. Lucan’s poetry, for instance, had great fortune since the time of its publication until the Middle Ages. It was read and commented in schools, and many manuscripts are preserved in which we can still read marginal and interlinear notes, showing what kind of difficulties were found in the text and why it was still considered interesting. My talk will focus on some of these annotations.


Raffaella Tabacco is a full professor of Latin Literature in University of Eastern Piedmont. Among other things she published a philological edition of Itinerarium Alexandri (Olschki, 2000). Together with Giovanna Garbarino she edited Cicero’s letters Ad Familiares. Since 2010 she has been P.I. of the project Digital Library of Late-Latin Texts (digilibLT), which digitises and makes available online for free Latin, non-religious prose works written from the 2nd to the 6th century A.D. She has also published work that combines Digital Humanities and Classics: Timpanaro, the Late Antiquity and Electric

Instruments. She is currently preparing a critical edition of the dialogue between Alexander the Great and Indian philosophers, a work of 4th century known as Commonitorium Palladii, in collaboration with the German scholar Marc Steinmann.