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Title: The common voice of the people : the importance of proclamation in Archaic and Classical Greece with special respect to Athens
Author: Brown, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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The Common Voice of the People is a study of the importance of heralds and their proclamations to the communal life of the ancient Athenian polis in the Archaic and Classical periods. This dissertation aims to contribute to the growing body of modern scholarship on issues of public communication, the tension between literacy and orality, the importance of ritual in the ancient polis, and the varied roles and identities of Greek heralds. While there has been a great focus in recent scholarship on literacy and the written record, the official place of orality within the Classical polis has been neglected, and until now there has never been a full scale study of heralds and their place within the community. Building upon the recent scholarship on news dispersal within the polis I have explored the positions and roles of the ancient Athenian heralds within their community, and the historical progression of the herald’s position from Geometric Greece to the end of the Classical world. I have sought to determine what their importance and the importance of their proclamations was to the proper functioning of the Athenian community. Marshalling evidence from both literary and epigraphic evidence I employed these deductions about heralds to further explore the importance of both official state and unofficial citizen proclamations in the spread of news and within established ritual. This work explores a range of topics concerning polis life such as religion, civil communication, public notice, private citizen disinheritances and manumissions, international communication, Imperial Athenian attitudes towards subject allies, and the necessity of proclamation to the conferral of honor. The Common Voice of the People demonstrates the depth of integration of heralds and oral communication within a variety of aspects of polis life, the surprising absence of heralds from certain central aspects of internal Athenian communication, and the continued importance of orality as both a practical and ceremonial aspect of official forms of communication and ritual in an increasingly literate classical Athens.
Supervisor: Parker, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of the ancient world ; Greek history ; communication ; orality ; writing ; heralds