Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and by William A. Johnson, Holt N. Parker

By William A. Johnson, Holt N. Parker

Classicists were sluggish to exploit the $64000 advances within the method that literacy is considered in different disciplines (including specifically cognitive psychology, socio-linguistics, and socio-anthropology). however, historians of literacy proceed to depend upon superseded paintings through classicists (mostly from the 1960's and 1970's) and feature little entry to the present reexamination of the traditional facts. This well timed quantity makes an attempt to formulate new attention-grabbing methods of speaking concerning the whole suggestion of literacy within the historic world—literacy now not within the experience of even if 10% or 30% of individuals within the historical global may learn or write, yet within the experience of text-oriented occasions embedded in a specific socio-cultural context.

The quantity is meant as a discussion board within which chosen major students reconsider from the floor up how scholars of classical antiquity may possibly most sensible technique the query of literacy long ago, and the way that research could materially intersect with adjustments within the manner that literacy is now seen in different disciplines.

The end result will supply readers new methods of puzzling over particular components of "literacy" in antiquity, akin to the character of non-public libraries, or what it capability to be a bookseller in antiquity; new constructionist questions, similar to what constitutes analyzing groups and the way they style themselves; new takes at the public sphere, equivalent to how literacy intersects with commercialism, or with using public areas, or with the development of civic identification; new essentialist questions, akin to what "book" and "reading" characterize in antiquity, why literate cultures increase, or why literate cultures topic. The publication derives from a convention (a Semple Symposium held in Cincinnati in April 2006) and contains new paintings from the main remarkable students of literacy in antiquity (e.g., Simon Goldhill, Joseph Farrell, Peter White, and Rosalind Thomas).

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As for its date, c. , it is much later than the ostraka we looked at earlier, and we cannot read this system back 100 years earlier or even more. But this may be a glimpse into the mundane ‘‘functional’’ literacy of a commercial kind in Athens of the high classical period; this may be a rare example of a type of list literacy that was used and usable in a commercial establishment of slaves, or leasing of slaves. 38 One can perhaps wonder if much of the day-to-day literacy—if it existed— of traders, bankers, potters, small-manufacturing establishments, looked somewhat like this by the mid-fourth century.

50. See, for instance, the Methone decrees, photographed clearly in ATL, vol. II, plate 1. 51. See Hedrick’s very useful survey of epigraphic evidence, 1999 (and note Teisamenos’ decree, And. I 83–4); Hedrick 2000. Writing, Reading, Public and Private ‘‘Literacies’’ 37 ATHENIAN OFFICIALS AND THE CHANGING DEMOCRACY: THE LITERACY OF THE OFFICIAL Many other spheres in the Athenian democracy involved writing, of course, written records and a degree of literacy, and the degree to which this was so changed in the course of its long history.

In other words, we find carelessness and semi-literacy, revealing, one may imagine, real unfamiliarity with letters. The political implications are interesting: quite a few of those exercising their democratic rights found writing hard and unfamiliar in the early fifth century, when most of these ostraka originate (480s and 470s). They can barely write. Unlike the modern damaged ballot papers, this does not seem to matter. We are dealing with the early days of democracy, it is true, so perhaps this is not surprising, but we may remember that those who cast their sherd in an ostracism were, by definition, the active citizens.

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