The Academy Vivarium Novum was founded in order to restore the great tradition of the Renaissance schools, their teaching methods, and the free and critical vision of the world that such an education fosters. The Academy is founded on the firm conviction that dignity (dignitas hominis) may be attained only by continuous self-examination. We hope to liberate our students from base and brutish passions, to empower their minds, and to nourish true humanitas.
We are convinced that individual refinement can only be achieved by fruitful dialogue with those who have preceded us in our earthly sojourn, those whose voices can still be heard, and whose thoughts we can discover in the books they have left us. Foregoing any vague notions associated with the word "humanism," the Academy Vivarium Novum holds fast to a single primary aim: to guarantee students direct access to the immense cultural heritage of classical, medieval, Reinassance, and post-Reinassance texts which have been passed down in the languages that are the foundation and the vehicle of western culture.
The students of the Academy Vivarium Novum are dedicated to the pursuit of a comprehensive grasp of the Latin and Ancient Greek languages. These languages are our second and third mother tongues. Only with this kind of comprehension are we able to enter the courts of the ancients. It is in this way that we are able to connect the particular with the universal. It is in this way that we are able to join the sublime utopia of the spirit with the honest skepticism of one who knows how difficult it is to unite words and deeds (res et verba). We firmly believe that the knowledge of literature (scientia litterarum) and experience of the world around us (experientia rerum) must never be out of joint. Every year our students analyze and discuss thousands of pages of Classical, Christian, Medieval and Renaissance literature. We confront the works of great authors in order to reflect profoundly upon the most serious troubles that beset humanity. Our students address the challenges of this world with a fuller knowledge of the past and great hope for our future.
Classical antiquity and Reinassance Humanism are, as Taddeo Zielinski says, neither a norm to which the students and teachers of the Academy must conform, nor a model to be imitated obediently. Rather we believe that students “should not be bound to slavishly follow any teachers” (nullius addicti iurare in verba magistri). Our students seek to appropriate the dialogue developed by our ancestors (maiores) in order to replant the seeds that might bear fruit again and again. Only this dialogue is capable of answering the demands of all time.
The name Vivarium Novum recalls the proto-humanistic community of Cassiodorus, Theodoric's magister officiorum. Vivarium was a place where liberal arts and lofty aspiration coincided; at the same time it evokes the isle of Vivara located in the Bay of Naples, where the idea of a school prepared to offer an advanced education to future generations was first conceived. We generously offer that education in order to liberate today's students from conformity to the fashions of the hour.