Literacy and Paideia in Ancient Greece

Literacy and Paideia in Ancient Greece

By (author) Kevin Robb

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This book examines the progress of literacy in ancient Greece from its origins in the eighth century to the fourth century, when the major cultural institutions of Athens became totally dependent on alphabetic literacy. By introducing new evidence and re-evaluating the older evidence, Robb demonstrates that early Greek literacy can be understood only in terms of the rich oral culture that immediately preceded it, one that was dominated by the oral performance of epical verse, or "Homer." Only gradually did literate practices supersede oral habits and the oral way of life, forging alliances which now seem both bizarre and fascinating, but which were eminently successful, contributing to the "miracle" of Greece.

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  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 162.6 x 236.2 x 26.7mm | 726.57g
  • 11 Aug 1994
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York
  • English
  • halftones, 1 line illustration
  • 0195059050
  • 9780195059052
  • 1,616,889

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Review quote

this is a very learned book ... The author is careful to gloss all Greak words, writes clearly, and - a good index of his intention to communicate rather than intimidate - transcribes everything into the Latin alphabet. Sino-Platonic Papers, No.107, Sept. 2000. IX. masterful treatment of paideia. Sino-Platonic Papers, No.107, Sept. 2000. IX. This is a thoroughly scholarly work, yet an utter delight to read. Sino-Platonic Papers, No.107, Sept. 2000. IX.

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Back cover copy

Kevin Robb chronicles ancient Greece's "literate revolution", recounting how the Phoenecian alphabet silently entered Greece and, in the improved Greek version, conquered its major cultural institutions. He examines the progress of literacy from its origins in the eighth century to the fourth century B.C.E., when the major institutions of Athenian democracy - most notably law and higher education - became totally dependent on alphabetic literacy. By introducing new evidence as well as re-evaluating the older evidence, Robb shows that early Greek literacy can be understood only in terms of the rich oral culture that immediately preceded it - one that was dominated by the oral performance of epic verse, or "Homer". Only gradually did literate practices supersede oral habits and the oral way of life, forging alliances which now seem both bizarre and fascinating, but which were eminently successful, contributing to the "miracle" of Greece. Literacy and Paideia in Ancient Greece provides a fascinating look at the first society to become culturally dependent on the alphabet. In it, Robb elucidates how, in the space of four hundred years, total orality gave way to an advancing literacy. In the process of his investigation, he brings new light to early Greek ethics, the rise of written law, the emergence of philosophy, and the final dominance of the Athenian philosophical schools in higher education.

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