Under Feet of Clay
University of Dikethaleos
Founded by Thales in the ancient past, the University is the pride of Dikethaleos and the largest known center for learning in the world. Housing thousands of students and seven separate colleges, the University is rife with competition, learning, advocacy, secrets, and more. The University is housed within the walls of the Unburning City, but has a set of walls all its own. For many, the academic institution is a city within a city, a nearly independent hub of activity that separates itself from the rest of the polis. The largest structure of the University is the central tower, which also houses a shrine to Thales. In the upper-most chamber of the tower, there is a fire that was lit by the sage himself, which the University is tasked to keep burning at all times. This chamber, where the heads of the Colleges meet to determine the most vital University business, was once the study of Thales himself.
Students at the University study under a particular professor, usually chosen in their second year, who guides their development. In addition to the official guidance of faculty, students can choose from a variety of professional organizations in each college, each with a reputation and history all their own. Secretive by necessity, these organizations were some of the first Secret Societies on the campus, but others have also arisen, some more wholesome than others. The most prestigious is the ELM Society, also known as the Everburning Legion of Minds, to which only a single student is added each year. Rival honors societies have risen up, though not all are officially sponsored by the University. Navigating these secret societies, whose membership rosters are hidden and whose work is conducted behind locked doors, is a necessity for any student.
Concentrations: Economics, Geometry, Arithmetic, Music, Applied Mathematics
The most prestigious school of study in many respects, the College of Mathematics is often the pickiest with its students and most vocal in University meetings. It has a truly impressive amount of funding, despite being only the fourth largest of the colleges. Most who study Mathematics focus on Geometry or Arithmetic, studying the axioms that define number and space as well as their appearances in nature and construction. Economics is an emerging field dedicated to studying the ways things are valued, how coins are spent, and calculating relative risks for sea travel on behalf of merchants. Music is a common pastime for Mathematical students, particularly given the mystic relationship between perfect fractions and the tones of the scale. Applied Mathematics is a catch-all concentration for those who would rather gather numbers from observed phenomena rather than pry at the nature of pure numbers. This group tends to be insular within the college, as their preference for material matters over the spiritual nature of numbers marks them as the “inferior mathematicians” for many.
Students of Mathematics share a large residence on the north end of the campus known as Master’s Hall, which has a spacious courtyard for studying and eating. Men bunk in the lower floors, while women have the upper rooms. At any given time, there are about 250 mathematics students living in Master’s Hall. A short walk along the pear grove on the north side of the campus brings the students of Mathematics to their dedicated building, Tower Harmoneia.
Concentrations: Argumentation, Law, Etiquette, Languages, Grammar
By far the most popular college with non-Dikethalean students, the College of Rhetoric is well esteemed, particularly by Periandropolenes. This is the college of choice for those hoping to become lawyers, politicians, or dedicated citizens of their homelands. With nearly 500 students at a time, the Rhetoric College offers five formal concentrations for its graduates. Grammar is the simplest, and introductory course work in Grammar is required for all students, as this material emphasizes the mechanical structure of spoken and written language, ranging from poetic meter to calligraphy. Often coupled with Grammar is the concentration of Languages, which is the study of non-Calopene languages, including Dwarven, Elven, Halfling, Gnome, Giant, Orc, and even Zorwa. It is outright forbidden in the College’s constitution for a student to concentrate upon their racial tongue; as such an elf cannot study Elven as their concentration. Etiquette is the most common formal training for women in the college, which helps bolster the numbers significantly, though funding for the Etiquette school is annually up for debate and has suffered significant cuts every year for a decade now. The most popular subjects of study are Argumentation and Law, both of which focus on pleading cases effectively. Law is seen as the pinnacle of Rhetorical study, requiring eloquence, careful reasoning, knowledge of the laws, and personable relationships with jurors. As such, ambitious sons of wealthy men often study Law, and Argumentation is seen as the runner-up prize for those who fail to meet the school of Law’s rigorous standards.
Rhetoric students have three domiciles. The most prestigious is the Nomic Quadrangle, the well-funded and well-protected housing for elite students of law. The rest of the Rhetoric students enjoy segregated housing by gender, with men living in Lupinus Hall, and women dwelling in Gynophore Hall. Classes for Law are held in the Tower of Auspices, while the rest of Rhetorical Studies meets in the attached structure, known as the Halls of Pallas.
Concentrations: Fluids, Solids, Mechanics, Energy, Arcane Studies (Evocation, Illusion, Enchantment, Divination, Transmutation, Abjuration)
The College of Physics studies the nature of the world and the forces that shape it. For most, this means the study of magic, selecting one of the six schools taught in the Tower Arcanis, though Arcane Studies is itself a singular field of study. Outside of these fields, students can study the nature of inert Fluids, including water, air, and mercury, or Solids such as metals, stone, and wood. There are few who study Mechanics, the arts of engineering and manipulating matter on small and large scales, but a healthy interest in Energy as a whole, particularly studies on the nature of light and fire. Common scholastic feuds in the College of Physics include the precise relationship between the four elements, whether one of the four is particularly dominant (usual contenders are Water and Fire), or whether the absence of elements is itself an element.
The building that supports the Tower Arcanis, where wizardry is studied, is known as the Rerum Natura, and houses the many classrooms and workshops for the Physics students. High-ranking students of Arcane Studies can earn a domicile within the wizarding tower itself, though most low-ranking arcanists and the other Physics students dwell in groups of ten in small, barracks-like accommodations, in a collection known as the Hive.
Concentrations: Mining, Material Studies, Arches, Columns, Sculpture, Art, Monuments
Fittingly the most grand structures on campus save the central university tower, the College of Architecture does not have any towers like other major colleges, instead preferring long, squat buildings intersecting with gravity-defying arches and fierce colonnades. The study of Arches and Columns is the most common work for aspiring architects, who traditionally dabble in both while specializing only slightly. As with any building, architects need a solid foundation built beneath them to thrive and survive. Others, particularly dwarven students, are interested in studying Mining, including how to support sheets of earth with pillars and recognizing how to effectively dig out veins of precious metals or extract blocks of marbles. Those interested in the heated debate of granite versus marble pillars, or whether wooden support struts on a façade are a valid choice will appreciate the fine art of Material Studies, while those uninterested in buildings themselves can specialize in the art of carving sculptures for walls and temples, crafting pottery, painting pottery, or planning monumental architectural structures. The creation of monuments, especially larger-than-life statues for temples, falls under the concentration of Monuments.
The College of Architecture contains the largest number of buildings on campus, with a pottery studio, painting studio, sculpture garden, drafting building, active marble pit mine, and a separate building for faculty offices known as the Dendraea, so-named for the arboreal decoration of its many exterior columns. Students are divided into seven meal-parties, and each dinner club has its own residence, housing around forty students each.
Concentrations: Anatomy, Humors, Surgery, Zoology, Balms
The most recognized and respected college in Calopius broadly, save Rhetoric, is far and away the Medical College. Here, aspiring physicians and healers can learn the structures of the body, the imbalances of humors that can afflict it, and even non-magical curatives. Though less trusted than clerical aid, the physicians are nevertheless a viable option for the wealthy, particularly those suffering long-term illness and awaiting the intervention of Asklepios. Medical students can concentrate in Anatomy, the Humors (diseases and their remedy), or Surgery if their interest is in the workings and repairs of the mortal body. Surgeons in particular have a mixed reputation, as the need to practice their art has led more than one surgeon in history to take fresh bodies from their rest to open up and explore. Many others specialize in zoology, believing the care of humanoid flesh is the domain of the gods, instead learn the works of animal bodies, studying Zoology. Such students often learn the best ways to breed and care for livestock, though some with a more adventurous streak seek out unusual specimens to study or seek out proper classifications for beasts. Balms is the most common field of study, though some argue it belongs in the realm of Alchemy rather than medicine, as it focuses on the blending of herbs and oils to create treatments for the sick and injured.
The Medical College has a grand tower that houses its faculty, topped with a massive bronze statue of Asklepios and his serpents, but the bulk of the work happens in the Agatherium, a massive building of plain structure with open wards for the treatment of patients and delivering of lectures. Atop the low roofs in the open air, the surgeons practice their craft, as the exposed blood must be exposed to hot, dry conditions under the sun lest an imbalance be introduced. In the pastures and pens on the southern end of the campus, the zoologists breed their cattle, sheep, and pigs. Between the pastures and the Agatherium, the students reside in the Pentad, a five-armed building with a common central mess hall, divided by concentration of study, with highest ranked students enjoying ground-floor accommodations and new students required to climb to the top floors in more crowded bunks.
Concentrations: Inert Substances, Chymestry, Transmutation of Substances, Potions, Curatives
A subtle science of hidden natures and reactions, Alchemy is one of the most spectacular and lucrative careers available in the University. The most basic study of alchemy is known as Chymestry, a systematic attempt to discover the elemental nature of substances, determining what they are like and what they will react with. Strictly descriptive, Chymestry is often seen as tedious to those more interested in the fantastical elements of alchemy, particularly Transmutation. Transmutation emphasizes the discovery of sequences of reactions to transform a substance into another. Transmutation alchemists discovered the processes for using mercury to refine silver, using fire to refine iron to steel, molding copper and tin into bronze, and the crafting of brass. These transmutations fall under the category of Inter Substances, however, as proper Transmutations rely on the manipulation of magical auras by non-magical means. Transmuters are particularly fond of unusual forms of inert metals, such as alchemical silver, cold iron, and many hope to find ways to turn worthless substances into valuable ones through semi-magical processes. The pinnacle of this achievement believed to be possible is the transmuting of lead into pure gold. Potions, while comparatively banal, is a thriving field, as alchemists are perfecting the process of interlacing magical auras into consumable goods for restoration, and some are even discovering ways to safely bake potions into cakes and breads. Curatives is a broad term for the use of alchemy to manipulate living bodies, and is a nearly abandoned field due to increasing suspicion of its potential use to harm.
Alchemists do most of their work in a stone plain on the west end of campus, absent all plant life, known as the Lithic Garden. The grand Philosopher’s Tower rises just east of the Lithic Garden, housing the lecture halls and offices of the faculty. Alchemical students dwell in a continuous, single floor dormitory that wraps the Lithic Garden in such a way that seem s a great courtyard. This gives the whole garden the appearance of a lighthouse, so the great complex is often simply called the Lighthouse.
Concentrations: Sagacious Legacies, Ethics, Theology, Astronomy, Theory of Mind
Philosophy is routinely the least funded of the departments, not because it is unrecognized by the University, but because many of its faculty insist on earning barely above subsistence wages. While a variety of courses are taught, the college divides into two sections: the conservatives and the progressives. More conservative students tend to value the consideration of the gods and service to the polis, and thus often prefer to study Theology and Sagacious Legacies. Theology seeks to describe and quantify the nature and preferences of the gods, cataloguing their mortal relatives, understanding their sacrifices, and interpreting their tales. Sagacious Legacies is the ongoing attempt to bring to unity the whole of the sayings of the seven sages, creating a single logical system that unites the brightest minds of mortals. Those studying Sagacious Legacies often believe that there are no more great philosophical discoveries to make, merely the synthesis and clarification of the great minds of the past. In contrast, the progressives tend to value the role of individual decision making and consider the nature of the mortal, and thus study Ethics and the Theory of Mind. Ethics does not deny or renounce the consideration of the gods, but places its value on how mortals should act, rather than understanding the desires of individual deities. Those studying the Theory of Mind attempt to describe the soul, mind, and psyche, their relationship, and precisely what separates Calopenes from animals, barbarians, and monsters. There is in the center of this debate the school of Astronomy, which seeks to chart the stars and constellations. Uninterested in the gods versus mortals debate raging in the College, the Astronomers emphasize their work is merely descriptive, and the oracles can tell you what your stars mean; their job is just to find out how and why stars move throughout the year.
Despite their differences, both the conservative and progressive share a building near the central gardens of the University, known as the Sophocleon. At the center of the courtyard in the Sophocleon stands a marble statue of Thales with the Fundamental Observation inscribed. The Cenobium is the name given to the sleeping quarters of the Philosophers, in which each student has a small cell-like room with a bed, desk, and little else. The Astronomers have their own building, adding to their aloof and disinterested position with the rest of the Philosophers. The Astral Tower stands on the south-western corner of the campus, with a wide, flat roof for observing and charting the stars. The tower houses the offices of the faculty for the whole College of Philosophy, divided by floor.