Ideas that add up #83

[The point of] a letter, as originally conceived by the ancients, was to transmit speech. Letters were read out loud. In fact, Cicero once wrote to a friend, “Please excuse me for taking so long to respond to your letter but I had a sore throat.” Think about that for a while. Latin and Greek were spoken — heard, not seen — they were the vernacular.

In fact, it wasn’t until Ambrose in Milan in the 4th CE that we see reading in silence actually mentioned, a shocking innovation at the time.

Letter in FT Weekend Magazine, March 30/31, 2013

It’s heartening to conceive of classical-era texts as things to be spoken and heard, alive and conversational, rather than as weighty documents to be pored over and dissected in grim seclusion.

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