Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire: A Study of Elite Communities


Readers and Reading Culture in the High Empire examines the system and culture of reading among the elite in second-century Rome. The focus is on deep sociocultural contextualization for reading events within specific communities, and thus the investigation proceeds in case-study fashion using the principal surviving witnesses. Explored are the communities of Pliny and Tacitus (with a look at Pliny's teacher, Quintilian) from the time of the emperor Trajan; and from the time of the Antonines, the medical community around Galen, the philological community around Gellius and Fronto (with a look at the curious reading habits of Fronto's pupil Marcus Aurelius), and the intellectual communities lampooned by the satirist Lucian. Along the way, evidence from the papyri is deployed to help to understand better and more concretely both the mechanics of reading, and the social interactions that surrounded the ancient book. The result is cultural history deeply written, of individual reading communities that differentiate themselves in interesting ways even while in aggregate showing a coherent reading culture with fascinating similarities and contrasts to the reading culture of today.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, WA

Published Date

  • May 1, 2010

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 288

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780195176407

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176407.001.0001

Citation Source

  • Scopus