Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 450 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PAGE. (I) A term used of a boy, lad or young male person in various capacities, positions or offices. The etymology is doubtful; the word is common to the Romanic languages; cf. O. Fr. and Span. page, Port. pagem, Ital. paggio. The Med. Lat. pagius has been commonly referred to Gr. iraubiov, diminutive of irais, boy, but the connexion is extremely doubtful. Others refer the word to the pueri paedagogiani, young slaves trained to become paedagogi (Gr. iraebaymyoi), or tutors to young boys attending school. Under the empire, numbers of such youths were attached to the imperial household for the purposes of ceremonial attendance on state occasions, thus occupying much the same position as that of the pages of a royal or noble household in medieval and modern times. In fact the term paedagogiani became equivalent to pueri honorarii, qui in palatio ministerio principis militabant (so Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v.). Littre refers pagius to pagensis, i.e. rustic, belonging to the country districts (pagus), and adduces from this the fact that the pagii were not necessarily boys or youths; and quotes from Claude Fauchet (153o-16o1) the statement (Lib. I. Orig. milit. cap. i.) that up to the time of Charles VI. (1368-1403) and Charles VII. (1403-1461) " le mot de Page . . . . sembloit etre seulement donne a de wiles personnes, comme a garcons de pied." Skeat (Etym. Diet.) points out that the form of the word in Portuguese, pagem, indicates the derivation from pagensis. The word " page " was applied in English to a boy or youth who was employed as an assistant to an older servant, acting as it were as an apprentice and learning his duties. In present usage the chief applications are: (a) to a boy or lad, generally wearing livery, and sometimes styled a " buttons," who is employed as a domestic servant; and (b) to a young boy who, dressed in fancy costume, forms part of the bridal procession at weddings. The word is also used (c) as the title of various officials of different rank in royal and other households; thus in the British royal household there are pages of honour, a page of the chambers, pages of the presence, and pages of the back stairs. These, no doubt, descend from the pueri paedagogiani of the Roman imperial household through the young persons of noble or gentle birth, who, during the middle and later ages, served in the household of royal and noble persons, and received a training to fit them for their future position in society. In the times of chivalry the " page " was one who served a knight and was trained to knighthood, and ranked next to a squire. (See KNIGHTHOOD and VALET.) (2) In the sense of one side of a leaf of printed or written matter, the word is derived through Fr. from Lat. pagina (pangere, to fasten).
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