Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 17, 2011 - History - 211 pages
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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 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.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
chapter 1 The geography of literacy
11
chapter 2 Literacy and political ethos
36
chapter 3 Literacy through intermediaries
56
chapter 4 Literacy through intermediaries
85
chapter 5 Athenian literacy in its sociopolitical context
109
Conclusions
143
technical difficulties and personal assumptions
150
appendix ii For an early date of the institution of the prytaneis
160
councillorsprytaneis from remote demes
163
Bibliography
169
Index locorum
195
General Index
202
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

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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