Between Orality and Literacy: Communication and Adaptation in Antiquity

Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. 10


The essays in Between Orality and Literacy address how oral and literature practices intersect as messages, texts, practices, and traditions move and change, because issues of orality and literacy are especially complex and significant when information is transmitted over wide expanses of time and space or adapted in new contexts. Their topics range from Homer and Hesiod to the New Testament and Gaius’ Institutes, from epic poetry and drama to vase painting, historiography, mythography, and the philosophical letter. Repeatedly they return to certain issues. Writing and orality are not mutually exclusive, and their interaction is not always in a single direction. Authors, whether they use writing or not, try to control the responses of a listening audience. A variable tradition can be fixed, not just by writing as a technology, but by such different processes as the establishment of a Panhellenic version of an Attic myth and a Hellenistic city’s creation of a single celebratory history.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Ruth Scodel (PhD, Harvard 1978) is D. R. Shackleton Bailey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Latin at the University of Michigan. Her many publications on Greek literature emphasize Homer and tragedy, including Greek Tragedy: an Introduction for Students (2010).
"It is a rich collection, offering a wealth of material for thought. Many of the contributions present sources not often studied from the point of view of orality and literacy, and most of them underline that the ways of communication in antiquity were multifarious." Minna Skafte Jensen, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.02.41.

Notes on Contributors

Ruth Scodel
Controlling the Web: Hypertextuality, the Iliad, and the Crimes of Previous Generations
James O’Maley
Omens and Messages in the Iliad and Odyssey: A Study in Transmission
Jonathan L. Ready
Prophetic Hesiod
Ruth Scodel
Λάβε τὸ βυβλίον: Orality and Literacy in Aristophanes
Carl Anderson and Keith Dix
Boreas and Oreithyia: A Case-Study in Multichannel Transmission of Myth
Margalit Finkelberg
The Poet and the Painter: A Hymn to Zeus on a Cup by the Brygos Painter
Jasper Gaunt
Story Time at the Library: Palaephatus and the Emergence of Highly Literate Mythology
Greta Hawes
Orality in Philosophical Epistles
Mathilde Cambron-Goulet
Look and Listen: History Performed and Inscribed
Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz
Spoken Prayers and Written Instructions in the Central Italian Cultural Koinê and Beyond
Jay Fisher
Oral Textuality as a Language of Exclusive Communication in Terence’s Prologues
Sophia Papaioannou
Simile Structure in Homeric Epic and Vergil’s Aeneid
Deborah Beck
Poet, Audience, Time, and Text: Reflections on Medium and Mode in Homer and Virgil
Elizabeth Minchin
Speaking Verse to Power: Circulation of Oral and Written Critique in the Lives of the Caesars
Niall Slater
The Book of Revelation: A Written Text Towards the Oral Performance
Lourdes García Ureña
The End of Orality: Transmission of Gospel Tradition in the Second and Third Centuries
S.D. Charlesworth
Transmitting Legal Knowledge: From Question-and-Answer Format to Handbook in Gaius’Institutes
Matthijs Wibier

Academic libraries, post-graduate students and faculty in Classics and New Testament.
  • Collapse
  • Expand