The Trivium/Quadrivium

The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric

The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric

by Sister Miriam Joseph, Marguerite McGlinn

Who sets language policy today? Who made whom the grammar doctor? Lacking the equivalent of l'Académie française, we English speakers must find our own way looking for guidance or vindication in source after source. McGuffey's Readers introduced nineteenth-century students to "correct" English. Strunk and White's Elements of Style and William Safire's column, "On Language," provide help on diction and syntax to contemporary writers and speakers. Sister Miriam Joseph's book, The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric, invites the reader into a deeper understanding—one that includes rules, definitions, and guidelines, but whose ultimate end is to transform the reader into a liberal artist.

A liberal artist seeks the perfection of the human faculties. The liberal artist begins with the language arts, the trivium, which is the basis of all learning because it teaches the tools for reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Thinking underlies all these activities. Many readers will recognize elements of this book: parts of speech, syntax, propositions, syllogisms, enthymemes, logical fallacies, scientific method, figures of speech, rhetorical technique, and poetics. The Trivium, however, presents these elements within a philosophy of language that connects thought, expression, and reality.

"Trivium" means the crossroads where the three branches of language meet. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, students studied and mastered this integrated view of language. Regrettably, modern language teaching keeps the parts without the vision of the whole. Inspired by the possibility of helping students "acquire mastery over the tools of learning" Sister Miriam Joseph and other teachers at Saint Mary's College designed and taught a course on the trivium for all first year students. The Trivium resulted from that noble endeavor.

The liberal artist travels in good company. Sister Miriam Joseph frequently cites passages from William Shakespeare, John Milton, Plato, the Bible, Homer, and other great writers. The Paul Dry Books edition of The Trivium provides new graphics and notes to make the book accessible to today's readers. Sister Miriam Joseph told her first audience that "the function of the trivium is the training of the mind for the study of matter and spirit, which constitute the sum of reality. The fruit of education is culture, which Mathew Arnold defined as 'the knowledge of ourselves and the world.'" May this noble endeavor lead many to that end.

"Is the trivium, then, a sufficient education for life? Properly taught, I believe that it should be."—Dorothy L. Sayers

"The Trivium is a highly recommended and welcome contribution to any serious and dedicated writer's reference collection."—Midwest Book Review

Trivium Mastery: The Intersection of Three Roads: How to Give Your Child an Authentic Classical Home Education
Teach Three Skills to Mastery
Classical education has seen an explosive rebirth in the past few years in the homeschool community.  Experts shout for your attention with advice like "teach world history in four distinct units," "learning Latin is mandatory," and "finish the logic stage before moving on to the rhetoric stage."

You could easily spend weeks pouring over all the different requirements, curriculum, teaching resources, and interpretations out there...and you would feel overwhelmed with the burden of trying to comprehend and apply all that you learned.   You only have a few years to shape your child's heart and mind.  With so much at stake and so little time, which way should you go?

Diane Lockman has been through a similar journey, and she wants you to know that what she discovered was liberating.  Classical education, if taught like it was for most of Western history, can be enormously fun and energizing!  All you have to do is teach three skills to mastery (language, thought, and speech) while discussing meaningful ideas like truth, goodness, and beauty. 

Home school parents need practical instructions for turning the idea of a classical Christian home education into reality.  Diane shows you exactly how to teach these three skills through 12 real-life case studies with children ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old.  Using her "must-know" checklists, Diane develops customized strategic semester plans for each child, a to-do list for the parents, and a to-do list for the children.  Use these personal "makeovers" as a guide to develop your own strategic plans.
National leaders on two continents have been successfully trained by the classical method for over two thousand years.  At this critical time in history, the common twelve-year educational paradigm cannot begin to prepare your children for the calling on their lives.  Like Diane, you and your family can recover your inheritance. What are you waiting for?
The Metalogicon: A Twelfth-Century Defense of the Verbal and Logical Arts of the Trivium

Written in 1159 and addressed to Thomas Becket, John of Salisbury's The Metalogicon presents—and defends—a thorough study of the liberal arts of grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The very name "Metalogicon," a coinage by the author, brings together the Greek meta (on behalf of) and logicon (logic or logical studies). Thus, in naming his text, he also explained it. With this lucid treatise on education, John of Salisbury urges a thorough grounding in the arts of words (oral and written) and reasoning, as these topics are addressed in grammar and logic.

The Metalogicon (Contents in brief)

Prologue — Occasion, Purpose, and General Nature of the Work

Book I — The Trivium and Grammar

Book II — Logic Proper: General Observations

Book III — Logic: Contents (Porphyry and Aristotle)

Book IV — Logic: Contents and Truth

The study of grammar in John of Salisbury's time included familiarization with the ancient Latin classics, and involved not only a reading of them but also an analysis and imitation of their style. It thus anticipated the humanism of the Renaissance. The study of logic, as it was then pursued, comprised learning and putting into practice the principles of Aristotle's Organon.

In The Metalogicon, a leading medieval scholar summarizes the essential lineaments of existing twelfth-century education, describes his experiences while a student at Chartres and Paris, and affords personal glimpses of such contemporary intellectual leaders as Peter Abelard, Gilbert de la Porrée, and Thierry of Chartres.

Written more than 950 years ago, The Metalogicon still possesses an invigorating originality that invites readers to refresh themselves at the sources of Western learning.

"Grammar is accordingly first among the liberal arts. Necessary for the young, gratifying to the old, and an agreeable solace in solitude, it alone, of all branches of learning, has more utility than show." — Quintilian, quoted by John of Salisbury in The Metalogicon

John of Salisbury (ca. 1115–1176) studied with almost all the great masters of the early twelfth century, served as an aid to Thomas à Becket, was friend to Pope Hadrian IV, an annoyance if not an enemy to England's King Henry II, and died as Bishop of Chartres.

Daniel D. McGarry was a professor of history at Saint Louis University. He died in 1999. His translation of The Metalogicon was the first to appear in any modern language.

Quadrivium: The Four Classical Liberal Arts of Number, Geometry, Music, & Cosmology (Wooden Books)

The quadrivium-the classical curriculum-comprises the four liberal arts of number, geometry, music, and cosmology. It was studied from antiquity to the Renaissance as a way of glimpsing the nature of reality. Geometry is number in space; music is number in time; and comology expresses number in space and time. Number, music, and geometry are metaphysical truths: life across the universe investigates them; they foreshadow the physical sciences.

Quadrivium is the first volume to bring together these four subjects in many hundreds of years. Composed of six successful titles in the Wooden Books series-Sacred Geometry, Sacred Number, Harmonograph, The Elements of Music, Platonic & Archimedean Solids, and A Little Book of Coincidence-it makes ancient wisdom and its astonishing interconnectedness accessible to us today.

Beautifully produced in six different colors of ink, Quadrivium will appeal to anyone interested in mathematics, music, astronomy, and how the universe works.