Living voice and lifeless letters: Reserve towards writing in the Graeco-Roman world

  • P J J Botha


This study contributes to the understanding of communication in antiquity by analysing a few specific references to oral and literate traditions in Hellenistic and
Christian texts. In the Graeco-Roman world we find a surprising widespread reticence towards writing, varying from mere indifference to active scepticism. The scribal
culture of antiquity exhibits a strong bias towards orality, with even literates expressing little confidence in writing. There was a prevailing preference for the ‘living
voice’ in education, and a strong belief that corpora of teaching which were never written down, and could not be written down, distinguished the insiders from the outsiders.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2072-8050
print ISSN: 0259-9422