A study of high level Greek in the non-literary papyri from Roman and Byzantine Egypt
This thesis discusses for the first time the reception of higher level Greek in everyday prose in second- to sixth-century Egypt. It offers insights into the strategies of composition in stylistically ambitious non-literary sources, and investigates the use of select high-level language varieties. It thus contributes to research on stylistic registers in post-classical Greek. In Chapter One, the objectives of thesis are set out, and the methodologies used in assessing evidence are outlined. Chapter Two explores competence as a prerequisite for good performance. The linguistic characteristics of grammar as taught in contemporary schools are analysed in detail to determine the constituents of language competence of educated individuals. Greek theories of the epistolary style are discussed at length to define the normative stylistic context within which well-educated individuals produced their correspondence. Chapter Three examines the impact of two high-level language varieties, viz. purism and poetic language. The phenomenon of severe puristic intervention is explored by analysing two test cases. The interaction between attitudes to extreme puristic variants and the weighting of non-puristic elements is discussed, and the existence of widely varied puristic profiles is demonstrated within each genre. Loans from poetic language are shown to be equally subject to various patterns of usage, depending upon either external determinants such as context or the writer's particular psychological motivations. Focusing on private correspondence, Chapter Four illustrates the main strategies of stylistic refinement from a selection of contemporary letters. The capacity of handling the tools of high level Greek is occasionally inferior to the writers' ambitions, and the selected strategies of refinement differed in conformity with the rhetorical norms proposed by known epistolary theorists. Compositional choices disagreeing with these seem to depend partly on rhetorically-motivated acts, partly on sheer ignorance of the requirements of rhetoric.