Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece

Literacy and Orality in Ancient Greece

Paperback Key Themes in Ancient History

By (author) Rosalind Thomas, Series edited by P.A. Cartledge, Series edited by Peter Garnsey


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  • Format: Paperback | 216 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 228mm x 20mm | 358g
  • Publication date: 8 October 2002
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521377420
  • ISBN 13: 9780521377423
  • Illustrations note: 4 line diagrams, bibiliographical essay, bibliography.
  • Sales rank: 1,178,755

Product description

This book explores the role of written and oral communication in Greece and is the first systematic and sustained treatment at this level. It examines the recent theoretical debates about literacy and orality and explores the uses of writing and oral communication, and their interaction, in ancient Greece. It is concerned to set the significance of written and oral communication as much as possible in their social and historical context, and to stress the specifically Greek characteristics in their use, arguing that the functions of literacy and orality are often fluid and culturally determined. It draws together the results of recent studies and suggests further avenues of enquiry. Individual chapters deal with (among other things) the role of writing in archaic Greece, oral poetry, the visual and monumental impact of writing, the performance and oral transmission even of written texts, and the use of writing by the city-states; there is an epilogue on Rome. All ancient evidence is translated.

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Review quote

"Rosalind Thomas explores the roles and interactions of writing and oral communication in eight readable chapters, providing both a broadly informed overview of basic issues and sensible insights of her own...The whole is dotted with valuable specific information and insights. The presentation is fluid and fluent..." Carol Thomas, Bryn Mawr Classical Review " excellent, obliquely angled introduction to the study of ancient Greece as a whole." James Davidson, Times Literary Supplement "...a work of major importance. It belongs in the library of every classicist, and of every scholar who works in the theory of oral transmission and/or the development of literacy." Ex Libris

Table of contents

1. Introduction; 2. Literacy and orality; 3. Oral poetry; 4. The coming of the alphabet: literacy and oral communication in archaic Greece; 5. Beyond the rationalist view of writing: between 'literate' and 'oral'; 6. Orality, performance, and memorial; 7. Literacy and the state: the profusion of writing; Epilogue: the Roman world; Bibliographical essay; Bibliography.