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Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens
     

Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens

by Anna Missiou
 

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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

Overview

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 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 ostracised and a fresh examination of the involvement of common citizens in the Council of 500, Missiou undermines the current orthodoxy that literacy was not widespread among Athenians. Literacy underwrote the effective functioning of Athenian democracy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521128766
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
02/28/2011
Pages:
228
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author

Anna Missiou is Associate Professor of Ancient Greek History at the University of Crete. Her previous publications include The Subversive Oratory of Andokides: Politics, Ideology and Decision-Making in Democratic Athens (1992).

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