The Textualization of the Greek Alphabet

The Textualization of the Greek Alphabet

By: Roger D. Woodard (author)Hardback

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In this book, Roger D. Woodard argues that when the Greeks first began to use the alphabet, they viewed themselves as participants in a performance phenomenon conceptually modeled on the performances of the oral poets. Since a time older than Greek antiquity, the oral poets of Indo-European tradition had been called 'weavers of words' - their extemporaneous performance of poetry was 'word weaving'. With the arrival of the new technology of the alphabet and the onset of Greek literacy, the very act of producing written symbols was interpreted as a comparable performance activity, albeit one in which almost everyone could participate, not only the select few. It was this new conceptualization of and participation in performance activity by the masses that eventually, or perhaps quickly, resulted in the demise of oral composition in performance in Greece. In conjunction with this investigation, Woodard analyzes a set of copper plaques inscribed with repeated alphabetic series and a line of what he interprets to be text, which attests to this archaic Greek conceptualization of the performance of symbol crafting.

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About Author

Roger D. Woodard is Andrew van Vranken Raymond Professor of Classics and Professor of Linguistics at the University of Buffalo, the State University of New York. His visiting appointments have included the American Academy at Rome, the University of Oxford, the Centro di Antropologia e Mondo Antico dell' Universit... di Siena, the Max-Planck-Institut fur Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin, and the Max-Planck-Institut fur evolutionare Anthropologie, Leipzig. He is author or editor of many books, including Myth, Ritual, and the Warrior in Roman and Indo-European Antiquity; The Cambridge Companion to Greek Mythology; Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic and Roman Cult; Indo-European Myth and Religion: A Manual; Ovid: Fasti (with A. J. Boyle); The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages; Greek Writing from Knossos to Homer: A Linguistic Interpretation of the Origin of the Greek Alphabet and the Continuity of Ancient Greek Literacy, and On Interpreting Morphological Change: The Greek Reflexive Pronoun.


1. Background; 2. The associative structure of the copper plaques; 3. Physical and chemical examination of the copper plaques David A. Scott; 4. The syntagmatic structure of the copper plaques; 5. Langue et ecriture; 6. Of styluses and withes; 7. The warp and weft of writing.

Product Details

  • publication date: 24/03/2014
  • ISBN13: 9781107028111
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 384
  • ID: 9781107028111
  • weight: 680
  • ISBN10: 1107028116

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