Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire

Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire : A Study of Elite Communities

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In Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire, William Johnson examines the system and culture of reading among the elite in second-century Rome. The investigation proceeds in case-study fashion using the principal surviving witnesses, beginning with the communities of Pliny and Tacitus (with a look at Pliny's teacher, Quintilian) from the time of the emperor Trajan. Johnson then moves on to explore elite reading during the era of the Antonines, including the medical community around Galen, the philological community around Gellius and Fronto (with a look at the curious reading habits of Fronto's pupil Marcus Aurelius), and the intellectual communities lampooned by the satirist Lucian. Along the way, evidence from the papyri is deployed to help to understand better and more concretely both the mechanics of reading, and the social interactions that surrounded the ancient book. The result is a rich cultural history of individual reading communities that differentiate themselves in interesting ways even while in aggregate showing a coherent reading culture with fascinating similarities and contrasts to the reading culture of today.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 160.02 x 233.68 x 25.4mm | 489.88g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195176405
  • 9780195176407
  • 1,259,502

Review quote

An engaging work of cultural history. Gail Trimble, Times Literary Supplement a fascinating and useful study Francesca Sapsford, Rosetta this book deserves to find a wide readership - and not only within the narrow reading communities of professional classicists and historians. Charles W. Henrick, Sehepunkte

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About William A. Johnson

William A. Johnson is Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Duke University.

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Table of contents

ABBREVIATIONS ; 1. Reading as a Sociocultural System ; 2. The Pragmatics of Reading ; 3. Pliny and the Construction of Literary Culture ; 4. Pliny, Tacitus, and the Dialogus de oratoribus ; 5. Doctors and Intellectuals: Galen's Reading Community ; 6. Aulus Gellius: The Life of the Litteratus ; 7. Fronto and Aurelius: Contubernium and Solitary Reader ; 8. Lucian's Insufficient Intellectual ; 9. The Papyri: Scholars and Reading Communities in Graeco-Roman Egypt ; 10. Conclusion

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