By Gordon McN. Rushforth
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There is thus a fascinating tension between the obvious fact that writing makes certain activities possible or easier, and that different potentials are seized upon by different communities. In some, writing means bureaucracy, control, and oppression by the state, in others an enabling skill that frees an individual’s creative potential. This is the direction of research at the moment. Rather than see ‘‘literacy’’ as an independent, separable skill, researchers as well as teachers in the ﬁeld tend to wish to see it more as an embedded activity—or to see a tension between the social context and the potentialities of writing.
See, for instance, the Methone decrees, photographed clearly in ATL, vol. II, plate 1. 51. See Hedrick’s very useful survey of epigraphic evidence, 1999 (and note Teisamenos’ decree, And. I 83–4); Hedrick 2000. Writing, Reading, Public and Private ‘‘Literacies’’ 37 ATHENIAN OFFICIALS AND THE CHANGING DEMOCRACY: THE LITERACY OF THE OFFICIAL Many other spheres in the Athenian democracy involved writing, of course, written records and a degree of literacy, and the degree to which this was so changed in the course of its long history.
He passed over to me a half share at the price of 2 1/2 hektai (each). I paid 2 1/2 hektai in cash and two days later personally gave a guarantee (KªªıÅôÞæØïí). , the money) he received on the river. The pledge (arrabon) I handed over where the boats are moored. biur and Sedegon; these (were) witnesses when I handed over the pledge. auaras, Nalb. ’’ (Chadwick’s 1990 translation of revised text) It is very tempting to wonder if the written contract developed early among traders on the edges (both geographical and ideological) of the Greek world precisely because of the mobility of the trader, the ﬂuidity of business, the absence of a secure and permanent base, and of security in land; and above all, the need to make agreements with strangers Greek and 26.