(ə-kăd'ə-mē) pronunciation
n., pl., -mies.
  1. A school for special instruction.
  2. A secondary or college-preparatory school, especially a private one.
    1. The academic community; academe: "When there's moral leadership from the White House and from the academy, people tend to adjust" (Jesse Jackson).
    2. Higher education in general. Used with the.
    3. A society of scholars, scientists, or artists.
  3. Academy
    1. Plato's school for advanced education and the first institutional school of philosophy.
    2. Platonism.
    3. The disciples of Plato.

[Latin Acadēmīa, the school where Plato taught, from Greek Akadēmeia.]

Society of learned individuals organized to advance art, science, literature, music, or some other cultural or intellectual area of endeavour. The word comes from the name of an olive grove outside ancient Athens, the site of Plato's famous school of philosophy in the 4th century . Academies appeared in Italy in the 15th century and reached their greatest influence in the 17th18th centuries. Their purpose generally was to provide training and, when applicable, to create exhibiting or performance opportunities for their members or students. Most European countries now have at least one academy sponsored by or otherwise connected with the state. Acadmie Franaise.

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Term used in music for an institution at which the study and/or performance of music was cultivated. The earliest arose in Italy during the Renaissance; at these the classics, philosophy and literature were often studied too. They were widely imitated elsewhere. In Paris, the opera-giving organization under Lully was the Académie Royale de Musique; in 18th-century Germany the term Akademie became synonymous with concert, and in 1791 a choir in Berlin was called ‘Singakademie’. Later the term came to be used mainly for formal music schools like the Royal Academy of Music, London.


The original schools of higher Jewish learning, established in Erets Israel and Babylonia, where both the written Torah and the Oral Law were expounded by the rabbinical sages. The earliest recorded mention of systematic "instruction" or "houses of learning" occurs in the Apocrypha (Ecclus. 51:16, 23, 29), where the term "sitting" (Heb. yeshivah) is equated with the Bet Midrash or "house of study" (cf. Avot. 2:7). Owing to its seating arrangements, yeshivah became the standard designation for a rabbinical academy (see below); metivta was its Aramaic equivalent in Babylonia (Yev. 105b).

The rabbis affirmed that such academies were already in existence during the period of the Zugot (scholarly "pairs"; second cent. BCE-early first cent. CE), one of whom served as Nasi (Patriarch or president of the academy) and the other as av bet din (head of the great Bet Din or high court). The Sanhedrin of 71 members which originally held its sessions on the Temple Mount served not only as a high court, but also as a center of rabbinic learning and discussion (i.e., as an academy or bet midrash: TJ Bétsah 2:4; Mid. 5:4).

Palestinian (Erets Israel) AcademiesThere is little evidence of organized rabbinic (tannaitic) instruction outside Jerusalem prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. A minor academy may nevertheless have been founded in Jabneh (Yavneh), a town lying some 25 miles to the west of Jerusalem. According to the aggadah, when the Romans were besieging Jerusalem, R. Johanan Ben Zakkai arranged to have himself smuggled out of the city in a coffin and brought before Vespasian, the Roman commander. Knowing R. Johanan to be a moderate, Vespasian was prepared to grant his request---"Give me Yavneh and its sages!" (Git. 56b).

Johanan proceeded to make Yavneh the first and central point in a network of academies spreading from Erets Israel to Nisibis in Babylonia and even to Rome. The Academy of Yavneh, both in structure and functions, took the lost Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem as its model. Other academies flourished under Johanan ben Zakkai's immediate disciples, notably Eliezer Ben Hyrcanus (at Lydda) and Joshua Ben ḥananiah (at Peki'in); later also under Akiva (Bené Berak), Hananiah ben Teradyon (Sikhnin), Yosé Ben ḥalafta (Sepphoris), and others, down to the Patriarch Judah Ha-Nasi (Beth She'arim). Eleazar ben Arakh founded an academy at Emmaus, but it had to close for lack of students. R. Akiva, however, a towering and legendary figure, is said to have drawn thousands to his academy at Bené Berak.

The devastation of central and southern Palestine as a result of Bar Kokhba's unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans (132-135 CE) led to the dispersal of many scholars, some to Babylonia. A period of reconsolidation began with the Yavneh Academy's transfer to Usha in Galilee (c. 140), this northern region of Erets Israel providing a sanctuary for additional schools and sages. The original Yavneh Academy moved from Usha to Sepphoris (c. 200), with Judah ha-Nasi as its president, and there the Mishnah was redacted; ultimately this yeshivah was relocated in Tiberias (c. 235).

The succeeding era was that of the amoraic or talmudic rabbis and their academies. Tiberias became the central "workshop" of the Jerusalem (or Palestinian) Talmud. Despite one long period of inactivity (c. 400-520 CE), its academy managed to survive until a century after the Arab conquest in the seventh century. The remaining academies of Erets Israel---Lydda, Caesarea, and Sepphoris---all vanished by the end of the fourth century.

In the talmudic period, the functions and authority of the academy were varied. Together with his senior colleagues, the head of the academy formed a supreme court of law before which actual cases were tried and decisions handed down. The head of the academy likewise conferred rabbinical Ordination (semikhah) on deserving students, and until the Jewish calendar was permanently fixed in 359 he determined the beginning of the New Moon (Rosh Ḥodesh) and the intercalation of a leap year.

As the supreme religious authority of both Palestinian and Diaspora Jewry, the Patriarch would from time to time send messengers, to convey religious instruction to the communities of Erets Israel and Babylonia, and also to raise funds on behalf of the academies and their students. The amounts received were hardly sufficient for the needs of the hundreds of scholars who, with few exceptions, had to earn their livelihood either as artisans or as farmers, and sessions of the academy were therefore often held in the evening.

One exclusive right of the Patriarch, exercised later by heads of the academies, was to enact decrees (see Takkanah). These were designed to provide for new situations that had not been covered by existing traditional law. Scholars of the academies likewise reserved the right to issue prohibitive decrees as a "fence around the law" (see Gezerah).

From the third century CE, scholars "went down" to Babylonia, where they transmitted the teachings of the rabbis of Erets Israel to colleagues and students in the Diaspora (see Neụté). This activity proved especially vital as Jewish life and culture in the Holy Land suffered increasingly from the intolerance of Byzantine Christian rulers. Anti-Jewish measures led to emigration, the closing of academies, and the abolition of the Patriarchate in 425.

Shortly after the arrival of Mar Zutra III from Babylonia, the Academy of Tiberias reopened its doors in 520. It survived there until 740, when its operations were transferred to Jerusalem, which had been under Arab Muslim rule since 638. The Seljuk conquest (1071), followed by that of the Crusaders (1099), sealed the fate of Jerusalem's revived academy. Well before the 11th century, however, the academies of Erets Israel had been eclipsed by those of Babylonia.

Babylonian AcademiesDespite the lack of conclusive evidence, it seems probable that in the first century BCE there were already schools of higher learning in Babylonia. The

tanna Judah Ben Bathyra I may have established an academy inNisibis during the last days of the Temple (Pes. 3b). Hananiah, a nephew of Joshua ben Hananiah, taught in Nehar Pekod, where he usurped the authority of Erets Israel by announcing New Moon dates and fixing leap years. This high-handed action was nullified, however, by students of R. Akiva who found temporary refuge in Babylonia after the suppression of Bar Kokhba's revolt.

Under Rav Shila and Abba bar Abba, the Academy of Nehardea was Babylonian Jewry's spiritual center around 200 CE, contact being maintained with Judah ha-Nasi and the Jewish community of Erets Israel. This Palestinian influence strengthened with the return of Rav (Abba Arikha), who had obtained his rabbinic ordination from Judah ha-Nasi. The new academy which Rav founded at Sura (c. 220) was destined to overshadow Nehardea and to remain active for nearly 800 years. Thanks to Rav's reputation as a scholar, it attracted well over 1,000 full-time students and revitalized Jewish learning throughout Babylonia. Rav's contemporary, Samuel (Mar), headed the older Academy of Nehardea, and these two men dominated the first generation of Babylonian amoraim. Samuel often deferred to Rav, and it was at Sura that most tractates of the Babylonian Talmud were edited.

Like the academies of Erets Israel which served as their model, the Babylonian academies had a dual function: each was simultaneously a study center, a bet midrash for the interpretation of Jewish law, and a bet din (law court) that tried both religious and civil cases.

Since both teachers and students were unpaid and had to earn a livelihood, those heading the academies lectured in the early hours of the morning and at night, thus allowing time for students to do their homework and prepare themselves for the next session (Shab. 136b). Anyone could be enrolled and at any age, but the highest qualifications were required to be admitted as a teacher. As in Erets Israel, the president of an academy was voted into office by its scholars, his title being rosh (ha-)yeshivah ("head of the session," Ber. 57a), but each appointment had to be ratified by the Babylonian Exilarch. No separate classes were held, all sessions taking place in one lecture hall with the head of the academy standing on a platform and students occupying rows of seats in front of him, sometimes as many as 24 (BK 117a; Meg. 28b). Twice a year, during the months of Elul and Adar, thousands of people would gather at one of the academies to study a talmudic tractate under the rosh yeshivah's direction (see Kallah Months).

The Nehardea Academy was destroyed in 259 by Palmyran allies of Rome. Under Samuel's pupil and successor, Judah Ben Ezekiel (c. 220-299), it was restored in Pumbedita, where it remained until the ninth century. From then until as late as the 13th century it operated in Baghdad. Sura flourished especially during the long presidency of Rav Ashi (376-427), under whom it was transferred to Mata Meḥasya.

Several factors combined to promote the ascendancy of the Babylonian academies in the post-talmudic age, when (from 589) each presiding scholar bore the title of Gaon ("Eminence" or "Excellency"). Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora directed their questions to the ge'onim of Sura or, in some instances, to those of Pumbedita. This gave rise to the Responsa literature, which included not only queries about ritual practice but questions regarding theology, Bible, liturgy, and the interpretation of passages in the Talmud as well. Thanks also to the ge'onim, a series of Jewish legal codes reduced the Halakhah to a practical guide, unencumbered by talmudic debate. Among these were the Halakhot Pesukot attributed to the gaon Yehudai Ben Nahman (c. 760) and the Halakhot Gedolot (c. 825) of later authorship.

There were frequent clashes of authority between the Exilarch and the gaon. Another source of friction, between the academies of Sura and Pumbedita concerned the division of funds for their support which were received from abroad. A question addressed to a gaon from the Diaspora would normally be accompanied by a sum of money intended for the students of the academy and for himself. Ultimately, the problem was solved by dividing the Diaspora into two parts and dividing the funds accordingly between Sura and Pumbedita.

The growth of Jewish communities in the medieval West (Spain, Italy, France, and Germany), led by native scholars who had often been trained in the Babylonian academies, brought about a decline in the prestige and influence of these schools. Western communities gradually ceased turning to the ge'onim for instruction and guidance. Before its final eclipse, however, the Academy of Pumbedita had the good fortune to be led by Sherira Gaon and his son Hai Gaon (998-1038), who brought the academy to a final period of glory .For the later academies, see Yeshivah.

1. Garden of Akademos near Athens where Plato taught.

2. Place where the arts and sciences are taught, so an institution of higher learning.

3. Place of training in some special field, e.g. riding, etc.

4. Society or institution for the cultivation and promotion of some art or science, etc.

Academy (Akadēmia or Akadēmeia; the earlier Greek name was Hekademeia), originally a shrine in olive groves sacred to the hero Akademos (or Hekademos) on the western side of Athens near the hill of Colonus. In classical times it was also the site of a gymnasium, surrounded by gardens and groves. Here, perhaps as early as the 380s BC, Plato established his school, consequently known as the Academy; it survived continuously until AD 529, when the Christian emperor Justinian closed the philosophy schools in Athens. Plato was buried nearby. Sulla cut down the trees during his siege of Athens in 87–86 BC, but they must have grown again, for Horace, who studied at Athens, refers to the ‘woods of Academus’ (Epistles II. 2. 45). Finds on the site in the twentieth century include schoolboys' slates, some with writing on them.

Although the Academy gave its name to a school of philosophy which, broadly speaking, continued to teach philosophy and science in accordance with Plato's own teaching (see PLATO 3), its doctrines naturally changed direction several times before it was closed. For this reason, and for convenience, ancient writers several centuries after Plato divided the history of the Academy into periods designated by numbers or, more usually, by the terms Old, Middle, and New; they did not always agree (nor do authorities today) on where the divisions occurred.

The Old Academy describes the period when the school was headed by Plato and his conservative successors Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemon, Crantor, and Crates, down to 265 BC. The Middle Academy is the term often used for the period initiated by Arcesilaus (or Arcesilas) of Pitane (c.315–242 BC) who gave the school the Sceptical approach which it kept with minor variations until the leadership of Antiochus of Ascalon in the first century BC. The New Academy, sometimes taken to include Arcesilaus, is more usually agreed to have started in the mid-second century BC under Carneades (d. 129), who developed Scepticism further.

The destruction of the Academy with its library during the sack of Athens by the Roman general Sulla in 86 BC broke the direct link with Plato. Antiochus of Ascalon, head of the (Fifth) Academy from 86 to 68 BC, abandoned the Scepticism of his predecessor Philo of Larisa and aimed to return to what he thought was genuine Platonism by maintaining that there was essential agreement between the doctrines of the Old Academy, the Aristotelians (Peripatetics), and the Stoics. Although not original he exerted great influence; his lecture audience included Cicero, to whom his eclecticism appealed and who later proclaimed himself an Academic (see ACADEMICA). For the development of Platonism after Antiochus see MIDDLE PLATONISM.

Little is known of the Academy in the following centuries until it appears in the fifth century AD as a centre of Neoplatonism, particularly under the leadership of Proclus, who powerfully influenced the form in which the Greek philosophical inheritance was passed on to Renaissance Europe.

Academy, school founded by Plato near Athens c.387 B.C. It took its name from the garden (named for the hero Academus) in which it was located. Plato's followers met there for nine centuries until, along with other pagan schools, it was closed by Emperor Justinian in A.D. 529. The Academy has come to mean the entire school of Platonic philosophy, covering the period from Plato through Neoplatonism under Proclus. During this period Platonic philosophy was modified in various ways. These have been frequently divided into three phases: the Old Academy (until c.250 B.C.) of Plato, Speusippus, and Xenocrates; the Middle Academy (until c.150 B.C.) of Arcesilaus and Carneades, who introduced and maintained skepticism as being more faithful to Plato and Socrates; and the New Academy (c.110 B.C.) of Philo of Larissa, who, with subsequent leaders, returned to the dogmatism of the Old Academy.

A cynical view of the world by Ambrose Bierce


[from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.

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IN BRIEF: A private school for special training, such as art or music.

pronunciation LeAnn practiced dancing every day to assure her admission to the dance academy.

Tutor's tip: In "academia" or the academic world, you will certainly find a specialized or advanced school known as an "academy." is a free vocabulary and spelling program where you only pay for results!

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  • Schools and Classes - academy: high school or college emphasizing specific subjects; private high school

For the collective institutions of higher learning, see Academia.
For other uses, see Academy (disambiguation).

An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership. The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece.

The School of Athens, fresco by Raphael (1509–1510), of an idealized Academy.

The original Academy[edit]

Main article: Platonic Academy

Before Akademia was a school, and even before Cimon enclosed its precincts with a wall,[1] it contained a sacred grove of olive trees dedicated to Athena, the goddess of wisdom, outside the city walls of ancient Athens.[2] The archaic name for the site was Hekademia, which by classical times evolved into Akademia and was explained, at least as early as the beginning of the 6th century BC, by linking it to an Athenian hero, a legendary "Akademos". The site of Akademia was sacred to Athena and other immortals.

Plato's immediate successors as "scholarch" of Akademia were Speusippus (347–339 BC), Xenocrates (339–314 BC), Polemon (314–269 BC), Crates (ca. 269–266 BC), and Arcesilaus (ca. 266–240 BC). Later scholarchs include Lacydes of Cyrene, Carneades, Clitomachus, and Philo of Larissa ("the last undisputed head of the Academy").[3][4] Other notable members of Akademia include Aristotle, Heraclides Ponticus, Eudoxus of Cnidus, Philip of Opus, Crantor, and Antiochus of Ascalon.

The Neoplatonic Academy of Late Antiquity[edit]

Further information: End of Hellenic Religion

After a lapse during the early Roman occupation, Akademia was refounded[5] as a new institution of some outstanding Platonists of late antiquity who called themselves "successors" (diadochoi, but of Plato) and presented themselves as an uninterrupted tradition reaching back to Plato. However, there cannot have actually been any geographical, institutional, economic or personal continuity with the original Academy in the new organizational entity.[6]

The last "Greek" philosophers of the revived Akademia in the 6th century were drawn from various parts of the Hellenistic cultural world and suggest the broad syncretism of the common culture (see koine): Five of the seven Akademia philosophers mentioned by Agathias were Syriac in their cultural origin: Hermias and Diogenes (both from Phoenicia), Isidorus of Gaza, Damascius of Syria, Iamblichus of Coele-Syria and perhaps even Simplicius of Cilicia.[6]

The emperor Justinian closed the school in AD 529, a date that is often cited as the end of Antiquity. According to the sole witness, the historian Agathias, its remaining members looked for protection under the rule of Sassanid king Khosrau I in his capital at Ctesiphon, carrying with them precious scrolls of literature and philosophy, and to a lesser degree of science. After a peace treaty between the Persian and the Byzantine empire in 532 guaranteed their personal security (an early document in the history of freedom of religion), some members found sanctuary in the pagan stronghold of Harran, near Edessa. One of the last leading figures of this group was Simplicius, a pupil of Damascius, the last head of the Athenian school.

It has been speculated that Akademia did not altogether disappear.[6][7] After his exile, Simplicius (and perhaps some others), may have travelled to Harran, near Edessa. From there, the students of an Academy-in-exile could have survived into the 9th century, long enough to facilitate the Arabic revival of the Neoplatonist commentary tradition in Baghdad.[7]

Renaissance academies in Italy[edit]

With the Neoplatonist revival that accompanied the revival of humanist studies, accademia took on newly vivid connotations.

15th century accademie[edit]

During the Florentine Renaissance, Cosimo de' Medici took a personal interest in the new Platonic Academy that he determined to re-establish in 1439, centered on the marvellous promise shown by the young Marsilio Ficino. Cosimo had been inspired by the arrival at the otherwise ineffective Council of Florence of Gemistos Plethon, who seemed a dazzling figure to the Florentine intellectuals.[citation needed] In 1462 Cosimo gave Ficino a villa at Careggi for the Academy's use, situated where Cosimo could see it from his own villa, and drop by for visits. The academy remained a wholly informal group, but one which had a great influence on Renaissance Neo-Platonism.

Main article: Roman academies

In Rome, after unity was restored following the Western Schism, humanist circles, cultivating philosophy and searching out and sharing ancient texts tended to gather where there was access to a library. The Vatican Library was not coordinated until 1475 and was never catalogued or widely accessible: not all popes looked with satisfaction at gatherings of unsupervised intellectuals. At the head of this movement for renewal in Rome was Cardinal Bessarion, whose house from the mid-century was the centre of a flourishing academy of Neoplatonic philosophy and a varied intellectual culture. His valuable Greek as well as Latin library (eventually bequeathed to the city of Venice after he withdrew from Rome) was at the disposal of the academicians. Bessarion, in the latter years of his life, retired from Rome to Ravenna, but he left behind him ardent adherents of the classic philosophy.

The next generation of humanists were bolder admirers of pagan culture, especially in the highly personal academy of Pomponius Leto, the natural son of a nobleman of the Sanseverino family, born in Calabria but known by his academic name, who devoted his energies to the enthusiastic study of classical antiquity, and attracted a great number of disciples and admirers. He was a worshipper not merely of the literary and artistic form, but also of the ideas and spirit of classic paganism, which made him appear a condemner of Christianity and an enemy of the Church. In his academy every member assumed a classical name. Its principal members were humanists, like Bessarion's protégé Giovanni Antonio Campani (Campanus), Bartolomeo Platina, the papal librarian, and Filippo Buonaccorsi, and young visitors who received polish in the academic circle, like Publio Fausto Andrelini of Bologna who took the New Learning to the University of Paris, to the discomfiture of his friend Erasmus. In their self-confidence, these first intellectual neopagans compromised themselves politically, at a time when Rome was full of conspiracies fomented by the Roman barons and the neighbouring princes: Paul II (1464–71) caused Pomponio and the leaders of the academy to be arrested on charges of irreligion, immorality, and conspiracy against the Pope. The prisoners begged so earnestly for mercy, and with such protestations of repentance, that they were pardoned. The Letonian academy, however, collapsed.[8]

In Naples, the Quattrocento academy founded by Alfonso of Aragon and guided by Antonio Beccadelli was the Porticus Antoniana, later known as the Accademia Pontaniana, after Giovanni Pontano.

16th-century literary-aesthetic academies[edit]

The 16th century saw at Rome a great increase of literary and aesthetic academies, more or less inspired by the Renaissance, all of which assumed, as was the fashion, odd and fantastic names. We learn from various sources the names of many such institutes; as a rule, they soon perished and left no trace. In the 1520s came the Accademia degl' Intronati, for the encouragement of theatrical representations. There were also the Academy of the "Vignaiuoli", or "Vinegrowers" (1530), and the Accademia della Virtù (1538), founded by Claudio Tolomei under the patronage of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici. These were followed by a new academy in the "Orti" or Farnese gardens. There were also the academies of the "Intrepidi" (1560), the "Animosi" (1576), and the "Illuminati" (1598); this last, founded by the Marchesa Isabella Aldobrandini Pallavicino. Towards the middle of the 16th century there were also the Academy of the "Notti Vaticane", or "Vatican Nights", founded by St. Charles Borromeo; an "Accademia di Diritto civile e canonico", and another of the university scholars and students of philosophy (Accademia Eustachiana). As a rule these academies, all very much alike, were merely circles of friends or clients gathered around a learned man or wealthy patron, and were dedicated to literary pastimes rather than methodical study. They fitted in, nevertheless, with the general situation and were in their own way one element of the historical development. Despite their empirical and fugitive character, they helped to keep up the general esteem for literary and other studies. Cardinals, prelates, and the clergy in general were most favourable to this movement, and assisted it by patronage and collaboration.

In Florence, the Medici again took the lead in establishing the Accademia e Compagnia delle Arti del Disegno in 1563, the first of the more formally organised art academies that gradually displaced the medieval artists' guilds, usually known as the Guild of Saint Luke, as the bodies responsible for training and often regulating artists, a change with great implications for the development of art, leading to the styles known as Academic art. The private Accademia degli Incamminati set up later in the century in Bologna by the Carracci brothers was also extremely influential, and with the Accademia di San Luca of Rome (founded 1593) helped to confirm the use of the term for these institutions.

17th- and 18th-century academies in Europe[edit]

Gradually academies began to specialize on particular topics (arts, language, sciences) and began to be founded and funded by the kings and other sovereigns (few republics had an academy). And, mainly, since 17th century academies spread throughout Europe.

Literary-philosophical academies[edit]

In the 17th century the tradition of literary-philosophical academies, as circles of friends gathering around learned patrons, was continued in Italy; the "Umoristi" (1611), the "Fantastici (1625), and the "Ordinati", founded by Cardinal Dati and Giulio Strozzi. About 1700 were founded the academies of the "Infecondi", the "Occulti", the "Deboli", the "Aborigini", the "Immobili", the "Accademia Esquilina", and others. During the 18th century many Italian cities established similar philosophical and scientific academies. In the first half of the 19th century some of these became the national academies of pre-unitarian states: the Academy of Accesi became the Panomitan Academy of Buon Gusto (Trento); the Academy of Timidi became the Royal Academy of Mantua; the Accademia dei Ricovrati became the Galileiana Academy of Arts and Science (Padova); the Academy of Dissonanti became the Royal Academy of Modena and the Academy of Oscuri became the Royal Academy of Lucca.

Academies of the arts[edit]

The Académie de peinture et de sculpture in Paris, established by the monarchy in 1648 (later renamed) was the most significant of the artistic academies, running the famous Salon exhibitions from 1725. Artistic academies were established all over Europe by the end of the 18th century, and many, like the Akademie der Künste in Berlin (founded 1696), the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid (founded 1744), the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg (1757), the Royal Academy in London (1768) and the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan (1776) still run art schools and hold large exhibitions, although their influence on taste greatly declined from the late 19th century.

A fundamental feature of academic discipline in the artistic academies was regular practice in making accurate drawings from antiquities, or from casts of antiquities, on the one hand, and on the other, in deriving inspiration from the other fount, the human form. Students assembled in sessions drawing the draped and undraped human form, and such drawings, which survive in the tens of thousands from the 17th through the 19th century, are termed académies in French.

Similar institutions were often established for other arts: Rome had the Accademia di Santa Cecilia for music from 1585; Paris had the Académie Royale de Musique from 1669 and the Académie d'architecture from 1671.

Linguistic academies[edit]

The Accademia degli Infiammati of Padova and the Accademia degli Umidi, soon renamed Accademia Fiorentina, of Florence were both founded in 1540, and were both initially concerned with the proper basis for literary use of the volgare, or vernacular language of Italy, which would later become the Italian language. In 1582 five Florentine literati gathered and founded the Accademia della Crusca to demonstrate and to conserve the beauty of the Florentine vernacular tongue, modelled upon the authors of the Trecento. The main instrument to do that was the Vocabolario degli accademici della Crusca. The Crusca remained for long a private institution, criticizing and opposing the official Accademia Fiorentina.

The first institution inspired by the Crusca was the Fruitbearing Society for German language, which existed from 1617 to 1680.

The Crusca inspired Richelieu to found in 1634 the analogous Académie française with the task of acting as an official authority on the French language, charged with publishing the official dictionary of that language. The following year the Académie received letters patent from the king Louis XIII as the only recognized academy for French language.

In its turn the state established Académie was the model for the Real Academia Española (founded in 1713) and the Swedish Academy (1786), which are the ruling bodies of their respective languages and editors of major dictionaries. It also was the model for the Russian Academy,founded in 1783, which afterwards merged into the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Academies of sciences[edit]

Main article: Academy of Sciences

After the short-lived Academia Secretorum Naturae of Naples, the first academy exclusively devoted to sciences was the Accademia dei Lincei founded in 1603 in Rome, particularly focused on natural sciences. In 1657 some students of Galileo founded the Accademia del Cimento (Academy of Experiment) in Florence, focused on physics and astronomy. The foundation of Academy was funded by Prince Leopoldo and Grand Duke Ferdinando II de' Medici. This academy lasted after few decades.

In 1652 was founded the Academia Naturae Curiosorum by four physicians.[9] In 1677, Leopold I, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, recognised the society and in 1687 he gave it the epithet Leopoldina, with which is internationally famous.[10], p. 7–8; [11] So, it became the academy of sciences for the whole Holy Roman Empire.

On 28 November 1660, a group of scientists from and influenced by the Invisible College (gathering approximately since 1645) met at Gresham College and announced the formation of a "College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning", which would meet weekly to discuss science and run experiments. In 1662 Charles II of England signed a Royal Charter which created the "Royal Society of London", then "Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge".

In 1666 Colbert gathered a small group of scholars to found a scientific society in Paris. The first 30 years of the Academy's existence were relatively informal, since no statutes had as yet been laid down for the institution. In contrast to Royal Society, the Academy was founded as an organ of government. In 1699, Louis XIV gave the Academy its first rules and named it Académie royale des sciences.

Although Prussia was a member of Holy Roman Empire, in 1700 Prince-elector Frederick III of Brandenburg founded its own Prussian Academy of Sciences upon the advice of Gottfried Leibniz, who was appointed president.

During 18th century many European kings followed and founded their own academy of sciences: in 1714 the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Bologna, in 1724 the Russian Academy of Sciences, in 1731 the Royal Dublin Society, in 1735 in Tuscany, in 1739 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in 1742 the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, in 1751 the Gottingen Academy of Sciences, in 1754 in Erfurt, in 1759 the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, in 1763 the Academia Theodoro-Palatina in Heidelberg, in 1779 the Sciences Academy of Lisbon, in 1783 the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in 1782 the Accademia dei Quaranta in Rome, in 1784 in Turin.

This kind of academy lost importance after the university reform begun with the foundation of the University of Berlin, when universities were provided with laboratories and clinics, and were charged with doing experimental research.

Military academies[edit]

At first such institutions only trained the Artillery and Military Engineering officiers, like the Aula da Artilharia (founded in 1641) and the Aula de Fortificação (1647) in Lisbon, the Real Accademia di Savoia in Turin (opened in 1678), the Imperial Artillery Military Academy of Saint Petersburg (1698), the Royal Military Academy Woolwich (1741), the Real Colegio de Artilleria in Segovia (1764).

Starting at the end of 16th century in the Holy Roman Empire, France, Poland and Denmark, many Knight academies were established to prepare the aristocratic youth for state and military service. Many of them lately turned into gymnasiums, but some of them were transformed into true military academies.

The Royal Danish Army Officers Academy began to educate all officers for the Royal Danish Army by request of King Frederick IV in 1713.

The École Militaire was founded by Louis XV of France in 1750 with the aim of creating an academic college for cadet officers from poor families. The construction began in 1752, but the school did not open until 1760.

The Theresian Military Academy was founded on 14 December 1751 by Maria Theresa of Austria. Per year the Academy accepted 100 noblemen and 100 commoners to start their education there.[12]
These were the model for the subsequent military academies throughout Europe, like the Reale Accademia Militare of Naples in 1787 and the Military Academy Karlberg in 1792.

Modern use of the term academy[edit]

The modern Academy of Athens, next to the University of Athens and the National Library forming 'the Trilogy', designed by Schinkel's Danish pupil Theofil Hansen, 1885, in Greek Ionic, academically correct even to the polychrome sculpture.

National academies are bodies for scientists, artists or writers that are usually state-funded and often are given the role of controlling much of the state funding for research into their areas, or other forms of funding. Some use different terms in their name - the British Royal Society for example. The membership typically comprises distinguished individuals in the relevant field, who may be elected by the other members, or appointed by the government. They are essentially not schools or colleges, though some may operate teaching arms. The Académie Française was the most influential pattern for these.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the annual Academy Awards, is an example of a purely industry body using the name. College-type specialized academies include the Royal Academy of Music of the United Kingdom; the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York; the United States Naval Academy; United States Air Force Academy; and the Australian Defence Force Academy. In emulation of the military academies, police in the United States are trained in police academies.

Because of the tradition of intellectual brilliance associated with this institution, many groups have chosen to use the word "academy" in their name, especially specialized tertiary educational institutions. In the early 19th century "academy" took the connotations that "gymnasium" was acquiring in German-speaking lands, of school that was less advanced than a college (for which it might prepare students) but considerably more than elementary. Early American examples are the prestigious preparatory schools of Phillips Andover Academy, Phillips Exeter Academy and Deerfield Academy. In England, "academy" had a specialized meaning for schools, but the Edinburgh Academy was more like the American examples. Academy was also used very loosely for various commercial training schools for dancing and the like.

Mozart organized public subscription performances of his music in Vienna in the 1780s and 1790s, he called the concerts "academies." This usage in musical terms survives in the concert orchestra Academy of St Martin in the Fields and in the Brixton Academy, a concert hall in Brixton, South London.

Academies proliferated in the 20th century until even a three-week series of lectures and discussions would be termed an "academy." In addition, the generic term "the academy" is sometimes used to refer to all of academia, which is sometimes considered a global successor to the Academy of Athens.

French regional academies overseeing education[edit]

A map outlining the academies overseeing education in France.

In France, regional academic councils called academies are responsible for supervising all aspects of education in their region. The academy regions are similar to, but not identical to, the standard French administrative regions. the rector of each academy is a revocable nominee of the Ministry of Education. These academies' main responsibility is overseeing primary and secondary education, but public universities are in some respects also answerable to the academy for their region. However, French private universities are independent of the state and therefore independent of the regional academies.

Russian research academies[edit]

In Imperial Russia and Soviet Union the term "academy", or Academy of Sciences was reserved to denote a state research establishment, see Russian Academy of Sciences. The latter one still exists in Russia, although other types of academies (study and honorary) appeared as well.

English school types[edit]

From the mid-seventeenth to the 19th centuries, educational institutions in England run by nonconformist groups that did not agree with the Church of England teachings were collectively known as "the dissenting academies". As a place at an English public school or university generally required conformity to the Church of England, these institutions provided an alternative for those with different religious views and formed a significant part of England’s educational system.

University College London (UCL) was founded in 1826 as the first publicly funded English university to admit anyone regardless of religious adherence; and the Test and Corporation Acts, which had imposed a wide range of restrictions on citizens who were not in conformity to the Church of England, were abolished shortly afterwards, by the Catholic Relief Act of 1829.

In 2000, a form of "independent state schools", called "academies", were introduced in England. They have been compared to US charter schools.[13] They are directly funded from central government rather than through local councils, and are partly privately sponsored. Often the sponsors are from business, but some are sponsored by universities and charities. These schools have greater autonomy than schools run by the local councils. They are usually a type of secondary school, but some are "all through" schools with an integral primary school. Some of the early ones were briefly known as "city academies"—the first such school opening on 10 September 2002 at the Business Academy Bexley.[14]

The Queen's Speech, which followed the 2010 UK general election, included proposals for a bill to allow the Secretary of State for Education to approve schools, both Primary and Secondary, that have been graded "outstanding" by Ofsted, to become academies. This will be through a simplified streamlined process which will not require the sponsors to provide capital funding.[15]

In 2012, the English government began forcing some schools which had been graded satisfactory or lower into becoming academies, unilaterally removing existing governing bodies and head teachers in some cases. An example was Downhills Primary School in Haringey, where the head teacher refused to turn the school into an academy. OFSTED were called in to assess the school, failed it, and both the head and the governing body were removed and replaced with a Government-appointed board despite opposition from the school and parents.[16][17]

Scottish schools[edit]

In Scotland, where there is not a set name for secondary schools, a quarter of the secondary schools have the word "academy" in their name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Plutarch Life of Cimon xiii:7
  2. ^ Thucydides ii:34
  3. ^ Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed. (1996), s.v. "Philon of Larissa."
  4. ^ See the table in The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 53–54.
  5. ^ Alan Cameron, "The last days of the Academy at Athens," in Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society vol 195 (n.s. 15), 1969, pp 7–29.
  6. ^ a b c Gerald Bechtle, Bryn Mawr Classical Review of Rainer Thiel, Simplikios und das Ende der neuplatonischen Schule in Athen. Stuttgart, 1999 (in English).
  7. ^ a b Richard Sorabji, (2005), The Philosophy of the Commentators, 200–600 AD: Psychology (with Ethics and Religion), page 11. Cornell University Press
  8. ^ Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, ii, 2, gives an unsympathetic account.
  9. ^ As for instance in the monumental A History of Magic and Experimental Science by Lynn Thorndike (see online).
  10. ^ Self-produced overview of the Leopoldina (accessed May 27, 2005)
  11. ^ Groschenheft magazine on the Leopoldina's anniversary (German) (accessed May 27, 2005)
  12. ^ , Feb. 2009.
  13. ^ Rebecca Smithers, The Guardian, July 6, 2005, "Hedge fund charity plans city academies"
  14. ^ BBC News: Academy opens door to the future
  15. ^ Academies Bill 2010 (HL)
  16. ^
  17. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Common misspelling(s) of academy

  • acadamy
  • accademy


Dansk (Danish)
n. - akademi

Nederlands (Dutch)
academie, middelbare school

Français (French)
n. - école privée, collège, pensionnat, académie, société

Deutsch (German)
n. - Akademie, Fachhochschule, Hochschule

Ελληνική (Greek)
n. - ακαδημία, ανώτατη σχολή, (στη Σκοτία) δευτεροβάθμιο σχολείο, (ιστ.) Ακαδήμεια, Ακαδημία

Italiano (Italian)

Português (Portuguese)
n. - academia (f), universidade (f), sociedade (f) de artistas, cientistas ou literatos


  • academy building    edifício (m) da academia

Русский (Russian)
академия, высшее учебное заведение, частная школа-интернат, университет


  • academy building    здание школы

Español (Spanish)
n. - academia, instituto, internado, universidad

Svenska (Swedish)
n. - akademi, högskola

中文(简体)(Chinese (Simplified))
学院, 研究院, 大学, 学会

中文(繁體)(Chinese (Traditional))
n. - 學院, 研究院, 大學, 學會

한국어 (Korean)
n. - 아카데미 학원(학파), 대학, 전문학교, 협회

日本語 (Japanese)
n. - 協会, 学会, 王立美術院, 権威者集団, 一群の規範的定説, アカデメイア学派, 学苑, 学院, 専門学校


  • academy building    校舎

العربيه (Arabic)
‏(الاسم) أكاديميه, معهد لتدريس الفنون أو علم معين, مجمع‏

עברית (Hebrew)
n. - ‮מכון, מדרשה, בי"ס תיכון פרטי (ארה"ב), אקדמיה‬

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