Trivium and quadrivium - American Education
The two categories of the seven liberal arts, as taught in the first European universities during the Middle Ages. The trivium, a Latin word for the meeting of three roads, consisted of grammar, which included the study of literature; dialectic, or logic; and rhetoric, which included the study of law. Students received bachelor’s degrees after successfully completing the trivium and then went on to earn their master’s degrees by studying the quadrivium, meaning a crossroads, or meeting of four roads. The quadrivium was made up of arithmetic; geometry, which included geography and natural history; astronomy, which usually included astrology; and music, almost all of it church-related.
The term liberal arts dates from ancient Greece, where PLATO and Aristotle made a distinction between the liberal arts, for development of intellect and morality, and the practical arts. Although the Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro wrote of the liberal arts during the first century B.C. and of such utilitarian arts as medicine and architecture, the breakdown of the liberal arts into the seven specific subject areas of grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music seems to have awaited the writings of a group of fifth-, sixth- and seventh-century A.D. scholars that included the Carthaginian born writer Martianus Capella, the Roman historian Flavius Magnus Cassiodorus and the Spanish scholar St. Isidore of Seville. The further breakdown into the elementary trivium and advanced quadrivium came with the founding of the first universities in the Middle Ages.