Ancient Literacy by William V. Harris

By William V. Harris

What number of people may perhaps learn and write within the historic global of the Greeks and Romans? nobody has formerly attempted to provide a scientific solution to this question. so much historians who've thought of the matter in any respect have given confident tests, in view that they've been inspired by way of huge our bodies of historic written fabric akin to the graffiti at Pompeii. they've got additionally been motivated by means of an inclination to idealize the Greek and Roman global and its academic approach. In old Literacy W. V. Harris offers the 1st thorough exploration of the degrees, forms, and capabilities of literacy within the classical global, from the discovery of the Greek alphabet approximately 800 B.C. all the way down to the 5th century A.D. Investigations of alternative societies convey that literacy ceases to be the accomplishment of a small elite purely in particular situations. Harris argues that the social and technological stipulations of the traditional international have been equivalent to to make mass literacy unthinkable. Noting society at the verge of mass literacy constantly possesses an problematic college procedure, Harris stresses the constraints of Greek and Roman education, stating the meagerness of investment for user-friendly schooling. Neither the Greeks nor the Romans got here wherever just about finishing the transition to a contemporary type of written tradition. They relied extra seriously on oral conversation than has more often than not been imagined. Harris examines the partial transition to written tradition, considering the commercial sphere and daily life, in addition to legislations, politics, management, and faith. He has a lot to claim additionally in regards to the movement of literary texts all through classical antiquity. The restricted unfold of literacy within the classical international had varied results. It gave a few stimulus to severe concept and assisted the buildup of information, and the minority that did learn how to learn and write was once to a point capable of assert itself politically. The written be aware used to be additionally an tool of energy, and its use was once essential for the development and upkeep of empires. so much fascinating is the function of writing within the new spiritual tradition of the overdue Roman Empire, during which it was once an increasing number of respected yet much less and no more practiced. Harris explores those and similar issues during this hugely unique paintings of social and cultural heritage. old Literacy is necessary interpreting for someone drawn to the classical international, the matter of literacy, or the background of the written observe.

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The effects of the economic structure on levels of literacy are further complicated by two important questions which will recur from time to time in the following pages: the ideas of the Greeks and Romans about economic opportunity (and hence also about social mobility), and their attitudes towards child labour. For the moment we may formulate both matters briefly. Did parents expect that sending their children to school or otherwise teaching them to read and write would bring economic benefit?

1960), 27; cf. 119. In oral cultures memory tends to lack verbal exactness, according to Ong, Orality and Literacy 60-66. 23. Theog. 135, 53 - 54. In Hesiod and Homer invocations of the Muses commonly occur when the poet requires a quantity of "catalogue" material: W. W. Minton, TAPhA xci (1960), 293. 24. Cf. PI. Protag. -Plu. educ. 13 = Mar. gef. 25. Cf. Marrou,Histoire 252. 26 A Greek writer under the Roman Empire could see the training of memory as the main aim of early education. 27 In particular it was always important for an orator to be able to commit his oration to memory, and as is well known a set of specialized techniques was devisedinitially, so it was believed, by Simonides of Ceos-which enabled him to do this.

4. 10. 1445. There were numerous opinions about who the inventor had been: see F. , Leipzig & Berlin, 1925), 5-9; L. H. Jeffery in Europa. Festschrift fur Ernst Grumach (Berlin, 1967), 152- 166; and we can add that several aretalogies of Isis claim part of the honour for her: see Y. sis aMaronee (Leiden, 1975), 75. I I. Sic. xii. 4. 12. On this topic cf. J. A. Notopoulos, TAPhA lxix (1938),465-493 (not always convincing) . 13. PI. Phaedr. 274C-275b. On the importance of memory in Plato's thought see M.

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