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Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens - Anna Missiou

Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens


Published: 1st April 2011
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Who wrote the administrative documents of Athens? Was literacy extensive in ancient Attika? Were inscriptions, those on stone or pieces of pottery (ostraka), written, read and comprehended by common people? In this book Anna Missiou gives full consideration to these questions of crucial importance for understanding the quality of Athenian democracy and culture. She explores how the Kleisthenic reforms, advancing political equally in the large territory of Attika, provided new contexts and new subject matter for writing. It promoted the exchange of reliable information between the demes, the tribes and the urban centre on particular important issues, including the mobilization of the army and the political organization of the citizen body. Through a close analysis of the process through which Athenian politicians were ostracized and a fresh examination of the involvement of common citizens in the Council of Five Hundred, Missiou undermines the current orthodoxy that literacy was not widespread among Athenians. Literacy underwrote the effective functioning of Athenian democracy.

'Missiou argues for the existence of extensive literacy among Athenian citizens due to their involvement in democratic administration ... she succeeds in bringing new considerations to a lengthy debate about Athenian literacy and showing how intimately it was connected with Athenian public life ... the book is very much worthy of reading.' Pavel Nylt, Eirene: Studia Graeca et Latina

Introduction: background, concepts and issues
The geography of literacy
Literacy and political ethos: the institution of ostracism
Literacy through intermediaries: I. the ostraka
Literacy through intermediaries: II. stone inscriptions
Athenian literacy in its sociopolitical context
Conclusions: literacy and Athenian democracy
studying the ostraka: technical difficulties and personal assumptions
for an early date for the institution of the prytaneis
literacy beyond the urban centre: councillors-prytaneis from remote demes
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521111409
ISBN-10: 0521111404
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 228
Published: 1st April 2011
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 13.8  x 1.5
Weight (kg): 0.43