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by Archaeology Newsroom

The meaning of the classic

The term “classic” is of Roman origin and derives both from the word classis meaning order in Latin and the word classicus, applying to the Roman citizens of the upper, wealthy class. For the first time the term was used by the author of “Noctes Atticae” (XIX, 8,15) Gellio. In his text, the “scriptor classicus” means the celebrated author. Later, the term “classici” came out to indicate those prominent authors and artists that had been selected as representatives of their art by the Alexandrian scholars of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. In all modern European languages, the term “classic” held a dual content, meaning either the high quality of an accomplishment or creation or referring to certain historic phases that are considered as exemplary , perfect and consequently prototypes for previous and later creations. But what exactly is classic and what is not? Classic is an example of the equilibrium between perpetual movement and continuous peace. It is the challenge of infinity in harmony with the finite both in space and in time. As regards art, according to Schadewald, “classic is the work in which the artist shows his ability to conceive life as an entity and at the same time to express and render this entity in detail. The work of art or the poetic work is like a dancing group; each dancer performs his part, nevertheless the effect of the group is harmonic”. The content of classic does not apply exclusively either to aesthetics or religion or philosophy or socio-economy, since its essence and character is broader than each of these disciplines and includes them all. Finally, the achievement of the classic cannot be considered as an utopia, because it was made manifest in antiquity – the ripe fruit of the Greek concept of life at its most happy moment.