Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire: A Study of Elite Communities

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Oxford University Press, Jun 3, 2010 - History - 272 pages
In Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire, William Johnson examines the system and culture of reading among the elite in second-century Rome. The investigation proceeds in case-study fashion using the principal surviving witnesses, beginning with the communities of Pliny and Tacitus (with a look at Pliny's teacher, Quintilian) from the time of the emperor Trajan. Johnson then moves on to explore elite reading during the era of the Antonines, including the medical community around Galen, the philological community around Gellius and Fronto (with a look at the curious reading habits of Fronto's pupil Marcus Aurelius), and the intellectual communities lampooned by the satirist Lucian. Along the way, evidence from the papyri is deployed to help to understand better and more concretely both the mechanics of reading, and the social interactions that surrounded the ancient book. The result is a rich cultural history of individual reading communities that differentiate themselves in interesting ways even while in aggregate showing a coherent reading culture with fascinating similarities and contrasts to the reading culture of today.
 

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Contents

1 Reading as a Sociocultural System
3
2 Pragmatics of Reading
17
3 Pliny and the Construction of Reading Communities
32
4 Pliny Tacitus and the Dialogus de oratoribus
63
Galens Reading Community
74
The Life of the Litteratus
98
Contubernium and Solitary Reader
137
8 Lucians Insufficient Intellectual
157
Scholars and Reading Communities in GraecoRoman Egypt
179
10 Conclusion
200
References
209
Index
219
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About the author (2010)

William A. Johnson is Associate Professor of Classical Studies, Duke University.

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