By William V. Harris
What number of people may learn and write within the historic international of the Greeks and Romans? nobody has formerly attempted to provide a scientific resolution to this question. such a lot historians who've thought of the matter in any respect have given positive tests, on account that they've been inspired by way of huge our bodies of old written fabric similar to the graffiti at Pompeii. they've got additionally been motivated through an inclination to idealize the Greek and Roman global and its academic method. In old Literacy W. V. Harris offers the 1st thorough exploration of the degrees, forms, and features of literacy within the classical global, from the discovery of the Greek alphabet approximately 800 B.C. right down to the 5th century A.D. Investigations of different societies express that literacy ceases to be the accomplishment of a small elite in basic terms in particular situations. Harris argues that the social and technological stipulations of the traditional global have been reminiscent of to make mass literacy unthinkable. Noting society at the verge of mass literacy continuously possesses an problematic institution process, Harris stresses the restrictions of Greek and Roman education, stating the meagerness of investment for uncomplicated schooling. Neither the Greeks nor the Romans got here wherever with reference to finishing the transition to a latest type of written tradition. They relied extra seriously on oral conversation than has typically been imagined. Harris examines the partial transition to written tradition, bearing in mind the industrial sphere and way of life, in addition to legislations, politics, management, and faith. He has a lot to assert additionally concerning the stream of literary texts all through classical antiquity. The restricted unfold of literacy within the classical global had assorted results. It gave a few stimulus to severe proposal and assisted the buildup of data, and the minority that did learn how to learn and write used to be to some degree capable of assert itself politically. The written notice used to be additionally an software of strength, and its use was once critical for the development and upkeep of empires. such a lot fascinating is the position of writing within the new spiritual tradition of the overdue Roman Empire, during which it used to be increasingly more respected yet much less and not more practiced. Harris explores those and comparable issues during this hugely unique paintings of social and cultural historical past. old Literacy is critical examining for a person attracted to the classical international, the matter of literacy, or the heritage of the written note.
Read or Download Ancient Literacy (British Museum) PDF
Similar ancient books
An account of astrology from its beginnings in Mesopotamia, concentrating on the Greco-Roman global, historical Astrology examines the theoretical improvement and altering social and political position of astrology.
This sequence seems at leaders who guided armies to victory and governed over significant domain names. As one empire fell, one other may upward thrust, led by means of charismatic and strong commanders.
A close portrait for nonspecialists of the various features of Romano-British society as published by way of archaeological excavation, together with the latest discoveries. .. may perhaps develop into the normal archaeological survey of Roman Britain for college kids and lay readers. at the same time scholarly and tasty.
- The Classical Heritage and its Beneficiaries
- The cave of Fontéchevade: recent excavations and their paleoanthropological implications
- The religions of ancient Egypt and Babylonia; the Gifford lectures on the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian conception of the divine delivered in Aberdeen
- Stories from Ancient Rome
- Foucault's Virginity: Ancient Erotic Fiction and the History of Sexuality (The Stanford Memorial Lectures)
- Inscriptions in the Private Sphere in the Greco-Roman World
Additional info for Ancient Literacy (British Museum)
PI. 809e-81ob. 42. 143-147. Perhaps Verge Georg. 502, where it is specified that the blessed country-dweller has not seen the "insanum ... forum aut populi tabularia," lies behind this. 43. Gulliver's Travels, part IV, chaps. iii and ix. The fact that mass education might be a threat to property and to religious orthodoxy had already been noticed before this date: cf. L. Stone, P & P xlii (1969), 84-85. 44. -J. Rousseau, Emile, trans. A. " 45. Cf. Stone 88-89· Introduction were withholding something which was in itself useful or desirable.
Literacy," 415 - 416, H. H. Golden gives a brief account of the difficulties of con- structing and of interpreting literacy statistics. 64. The Bureau of the Census attempts to deal with the matter by asking questions in writing. J. Kozol, Illiterate America (New York, 1985), 37, summarizes the story: the literacy question was dropped from the 1940 census on the grounds that most people were literate, and when it was reinstated in 1970, "instead of posing ques- Introduction 22 and consequently no one knows how many Americans are illiterate; it is very clear that the number is far higher than the Bureau of the Census has imagined; the only dispute can be about the size of the error.
In various parts of Europe a process of educational expansion had already been taking place over a period of as much as 41. R. Marichal in L'ecriture et la psychologie des peuples (XXlr semaine de synthese) (Paris, 1963), 208. He also claims that Roman administration was as paperdominated as ours-which is at least a comprehensible view. The only mass-produced texts of antiquity were coin legends, and perhaps the makers' names on terracotta lamps; the implications of such texts will be discussed in due course.