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ERIC Number: ED319662
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Some Consequences of Limited Literacy in Late Antiquity.
Kaster, Robert A.
This examination of education in late antiquity looks at the variable definitions of literacy, the function of elite literacy as a scarce and highly valued commodity, and the nature of the relationship between the cultural elite and Christianity. A basic definition of a literate person is one who can read and write in his or her society's standard language but, in fact, various classes of literacy existed in antiquity, and literacy held a high place in the competition for esteem among the elite. Schools of grammar and rhetoric were exclusive in their social organization; there was no single system of primary and secondary schools, but different types of schools that served different population groups. Massive illiteracy existed among the public at large and the "Schools of Letters," which served this population and supposedly provided basic literacy, ranked low in prestige. The elite or "Liberal Schools," insulated those who had access to them from the lower orders; their teachers received both higher fees and wider legal privileges than did others. Prior to the third century, Christians claimed that the culture of the "letterati" was symbolic of false values and showed no care for inner truth. However, after the fourth century, the opening up of the Christian community in the East meant that the literary culture came to be regarded as less of a divisive force; the Western church, on the other hand, still saw itself as an alien body in a dangerous environment. (NL)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A