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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Roman world was characterized by a diversity of literacies. These were stratified by class and partitioned by language. In this chapter, I give a conspectus of the many social functions that these various literacies exercised in everyday life, as well as a sense of the technical and educational apparatus through which individuals acquired and exercised literacy. I discuss the important and ambiguous role of the scribe as professionally literate in a society where literacy did not always confer status. Finally, I argue that these various literacies form a system that helps justify our speaking of the literatures of the Roman World as one entity.

Keywords: Literacy, education, the Roman world, scribes, history of the book

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