"[A] magisterial study...[and] a major contribution."--Religious Studies Review
"This book is fitting tribute to Havelock's lasting influence and the permanent changes he made in our thinking about the culture of ancient Greece....In so short a review I cannot do justice to the richness and breadth of Robb's learning....His views are always balanced and in my opinion usually right....The great strengths of Robb's book is to tie the nature and forms of ancient Greek culture directly to the technology of writing that supported it."--American Historical Review
"This is an important book...and it is scarcely possible to do it justice in the space of a short review....a learned and original book with a great deal for all classicists, whether they be historians, epigraphers, philologists, or students of Greek law, literature, or philosophy."--Language in Society
"This book is an intellectual jackpot, the sort of book that habitual reviewers yearn to receive and for which they plug precious quarter-hours into tomes with promising titles....For linguists of all interests, this book will richly repay study."--Language
"...Robb has read widely in the specialist literature on all of the topics he discusses, and he formulates a framework for understanding his subject in its full scope."--American Journal of Philology
From the Back Cover
Kevin Robb chronicles ancient Greece's "literate revolution", recounting how the Phoenecian alphabet silently entered Greece and, in the improved Greek version, conquered its major cultural institutions. He examines the progress of literacy from its origins in the eighth century to the fourth century B.C.E., when the major institutions of Athenian democracy - most notably law and higher education - became totally dependent on alphabetic literacy. By introducing new evidence as well as re-evaluating the older evidence, Robb shows that early Greek literacy can be understood only in terms of the rich oral culture that immediately preceded it - one that was dominated by the oral performance of epic verse, or "Homer". Only gradually did literate practices supersede oral habits and the oral way of life, forging alliances which now seem both bizarre and fascinating, but which were eminently successful, contributing to the "miracle" of Greece. Literacy and Paideia in Ancient Greece provides a fascinating look at the first society to become culturally dependent on the alphabet. In it, Robb elucidates how, in the space of four hundred years, total orality gave way to an advancing literacy. In the process of his investigation, he brings new light to early Greek ethics, the rise of written law, the emergence of philosophy, and the final dominance of the Athenian philosophical schools in higher education.