The concept of a university starting at Athens developed through time. Experience has shown that a university requires more than genius on the part of professors.
After asserting that outstanding teachers are the foundation for a university Newman turns to explain the need universities have for laws and constitutions. He writes: “Zeal began, power and wisdom completed: private enterprise came first, national or governmental recognition followed; first the Greek, then the Macedonian and Roman; the Athenian created, the Imperialist organized and consolidated.”
He considers that Athenians made propriety the foremost principle of conduct.
The reason was “simply because it was so praiseworthy, so noble, and so fair. Not that they discarded Law, not that they had not an eye to their interest; but they boasted that “grasshoppers” like them, old of race and pure of blood, could be influenced in their conduct by nothing short of a fine and delicate taste, a sense of honour, and an elevated, aspiring spirit. Their model man, like the pattern of chivalry, was a gentleman, [kalokaigathos];—a word which has hardly its equivalent in the sterner language of Rome, where, on the contrary,
Vir bonus est quis?
Qui consulta patrum, qui leges juraque servat.
For the Romans deified Law, as the Athenians deified the Beautiful.”
Newman notes that Athenians had splendid feasts and spectacles attracting many from abroad without relaxing their capacity for warfare and skill: “after their fill of pleasure, they were only more gallant in the field, and more patient and enduring on the march. They cultivated the fine arts with too much taste to be expensive, and they studied the sciences with too much point to become effeminate; debate did not blunt their energy, nor foresight of danger chill their daring; but, as their tragic poet expresses it, “the loves were the attendants upon wisdom, and had a share in the acts of every virtue.”
Athens thus did not have the provisions to maintain authority and discipline at the university. Newman will indicate how a university needs both the genius of professors and the rule of its institutions.