Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece

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  • Edition: Revised
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-08-20
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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From the sixth through the fourth centuries BCE, the landmark developments of Greek culture and the critical works of Greek thought and literature were accompanied by an explosive growth in the use of written texts. By the close of the classical period, a new culture of literacy and textuality had come into existence alongside the traditional practices of live oral discourse. New avenues for human activity and creativity arose in this period. The very creation of the 'classical' and the perennial use of Greece by later European civilizations as a source of knowledge and inspiration would not have taken place without the textual innovations of the classical period. This book considers how writing, reading and disseminating texts led to new ways of thinking and new forms of expression and behaviour. The individual chapters cover a range of phenomena, including poetry, science, religions, philosophy, history, law and learning.

Table of Contents

Introduction: why written texts?
From letters to literature: reading the 'song culture' of classical Greece
Writing religion: inscribed texts, ritual authority and the religious discourse of the Polis
Letters of the law: written texts in archaic Greek law
Writing, law and legal practice in the Athenian courts
Literacy and the charlatan in ancient Greek medicine Lesley Dean-Jones
Literacy in Greek and Chinese science: some comparative issues
Writing philosophy: prose and poetry from Thales to Plato
Prose performance texts: Epideixis and written publication in the late fifth and early fourth centuries
Writing for reading: Thucydides, Plato and the emergence of the critical reader
Reflecting on writing and culture: Theocritus and the style of cultural change
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