Reading silently versus reading aloud in antiquity.

Discuss the world of the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, and Egyptians.
mbuckley3
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:47 am

Re: Reading silently versus reading aloud in antiquity.

Post by mbuckley3 »

Reading Josephus's 'Vita', you could be forgiven for thinking that most of a commander's time was taken up with reading, writing and intercepting dispatches.

When necessary, a letter was read aloud. So #260 : "I then read aloud [ παρανεγίνωσκον ] to the Galilaeans two of the letters dispatched by Jonathan, which had been intercepted and forwarded to me by the scouts whom I had picketed on the roads."

When necessary, a letter was read silently. So #223 : "I directed four only of my closest friends to stay and ordered my servant to set on wine. Then, when no one was looking, I unfolded the letter, took in at a glance [ ταχύ συνείς ] the writers' design and sealed it up again."

So also #245 : "..Jonathan's couriers, carrying dispatches, fell into the hands of my sentries..The prisoners were, in accordance with my directions, detained on the spot; the letters I perused and, finding them full of slander and lies, decided, without mentioning a word of them to anyone, to advance to meet my foes."
mbuckley3
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:47 am

Re: Reading silently versus reading aloud in antiquity.

Post by mbuckley3 »

Ovid, 'Heroides' 21, lines 1-2. A would-be suitor tricks Cydippe into making a sacred vow. As she tours the temple of Diana, an inscribed apple is rolled towards her. Her servant picks it up and asks her what it says. Naturally, she reads it out aloud. Unfortunately, the text is "By Diana, I swear I will marry Acontius". The trap is sprung, dire consequences follow.

He writes her a letter. Wary of further entrapment, she reads it silently :
"I was terrified, and I read through your letter without the slightest sound,
so that my tongue might not unknowingly swear by some other gods ".

"Pertimui, scriptumque tuum sine murmure legi,
iuraret ne quos inscia lingua deos".
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