Academy (Gr. ), originally the name of a public pleasure ground situate in the Ceramicus (tile field), a suburb of Athens, on the Oephissus, said to have belonged in the time of the Trojan war to Acade-mus, a local hero. In the 5th century B. 0. this land belonged to Cimon the son of Miltia-des, who beautified the grounds, gave free admission to the public, and at his death bequeathed them to his fellow citizens. They naturally became a favorite resort for all the loungers of the city, and Socrates was wont to hold forth in this delightful place. Plato taught his philosophy in its groves, and his school was hence named the Academic. As the Platonists were also called academists, so wherever an academist started a school, he called that school an academy. The word academy is used in English in two senses. In its unambitious acceptation it means a place of higher instruction for youths, ranking with the gymnasia of Germany. The name is also given to national military and naval high schools in England and America. But the word academy, in its larger acceptation, is employed to designate a society of learned men, established for the improvement of science, literature, or the arts.
The first association of this sort recorded in history was called Musaeon or Museum, and was founded in Alexandria by Ptolemy Soter, one of the generals and successors of Alexander the Great. This soldier, after he had got possession of Egypt, restricted his energies to maintaining a defensive balance of power and to the cultivation of letters and science. Gathering around him scholars of various attainments, he sought to attach them permanently to his court by collecting books and treasures of art. Rome had no academies. The Alexandrian example, if lost upon the Romans, was imitated by the Jews in Palestine and Babylonia, and to a degree also by the Nes-torian Christians. The Arabian caliphs profited by the lessons taught them by their Jewish and Christian subjects, and improved upon them by founding establishments for the preservation and increase of learning from Cordova to Samar-cand. Charlemagne, following the suggestion of the learned Aleuin, encouraged men of culture to assemble in his palace; but after his death nothing was heard of academies until toward the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century, when institutions of the kind were established at Florence, Palermo, and Toulouse, chiefly devoted to the cultivation of poetry.
It was not till after the downfall of the Byzantine empire in the 15th century, and the revival of classical culture in western Europe, that academies of a more comprehensive kind were established in Italy. The Accademia Pontaniana, so called after its principal benefactor Pontano, was founded at Palermo in 1433 by Antonio Beccadella. The Accademia Platonica, founded by Lorenzo de' Medici in 1474, lasted till 1521, counting among its members Machiavelli and other illustrious men, who devoted themselves to the study of Plato and of Dante, and to the improvement of the Italian language and letters. This institution became the model of many others. Rome had its Lincei, Naples its Ardenti, Parma its In-sensati, and Genoa its Addormentati. In other towns were the academies of the Confused, of the Unstable, of the Drowsy, the Dead, the Nocturnal, the Thunderers, the Smoky, and the Vagabonds. Most of these academies were endowed by the state or by some wealthy patron of learning. All those learned associations which are in point of fact academies, but which bear the name of societies, will be treated under that title. We shall now proceed to notice some of the most celebrated academies of the world, ranged according to their nationalities.
I. Italian Academies. Italy is the mother country of modern academies. Jakeius, who in 1725 published at Leipsic an account of them, enumerates nearly 600 as then existing. We have already mentioned the first two; they did not live long. The most enduring and influential of all was the Accademia delta Crusca (literally, academy of bran or chaff), so called in allusion to its chief object of purifying and winnowing the national tongue. It was founded in 1582 at Florence by the poet Grazzini. The dictionary of the Academy della Crusca was first published in 1612, and in its augmented form (Florence, 1729-'38) is considered the standard authority for the Italian language. The Della Crusca is now incorporated with two still older societies, and thus united they are called the royal Florentine academy. The Academia Secretorum Natural was established at Naples in 1560 for the cultivation of physical science, but was speedily abolished. This was succeeded by the Accademia de' Lincei (of the Lynx-eyed) at Rome, founded by Prince Federico Cesi in 1609, and dissolved after his death in 1632; but the name was revived in 1847 by Pius IX. in the Accademia Pontificia de' nuovi Lincei, a scientific association of resident and foreign members, which publishes its transactions.
The Accademia del Cimento, or of experiment, was also instituted for the prosecution of inquiries in physical science, under the protection of Prince Leopold, brother of the grand duke of Tuscany. A collection of experiments was published in Italian by this academy in 1667, of which a Latin translation was made with valuable notes. The Accademia degli Arcadi, or of the Arcadians, at Rome, originated in 1690 from the social gatherings at the palace of Queen Christina of Sweden, and met in the open air, poets and poetesses only being admitted, and each member assuming the name of a shepherd. Its scope was afterward enlarged, and since 1726 it has met in summer in the Bosco Parrasio of Mount Jani-culum, in winter in the Serbatojo. It publishes a monthly collection of pieces, called the Giornale Arcadico, which frequently contains curious archaeological information. Pope Leo XII. was elected a member in 1824, and Louis Napoleon, then president of the French republic, in 1850. At Naples the Reale Accademia delle Scienze e Belle Lettere was established in 1749, and the Accademia Ercolanea in 1755. The purpose of the latter was to explain the remains which were exhumed at Herculaneum and Pompeii. Its first volume appeared in 1775. Further volumes have since been published under the title of Antichitd di Ercolano. Another existing academy is the Accademia Etrusca at Cortona, founded in 1726. The royal academy of Turin, in whose volumes of transactions Lagrange first made himself known, is chiefly remarkable on that account.