Tuesday, July 20, 2021



M.I. Finley, "Censorship in Classical Antiquity," in his Democracy Ancient and Modern, 2nd ed. (London: The Hogarth Press, 1985), pp. 142-172 (at 146):
There is an important sense in which it is correct to say that all written works in antiquity were a kind of samizdat, not because they were always, or even usually, illicit, but because their circulation was restricted to copies prepared by hand and passed by hand from person to person.
Id. (at 153-154):
It is extremely important to realize that in classical antiquity (and indeed anywhere before the invention of printing) the number of books in circulation and the number of readers of books were infinitesimal and insignificant outside the small world of professional philosophers and intellectuals. And even they relied heavily on oral communication and memory, like everyone else. Books and pamphlets played no real part in affecting or moulding public opinion, even in élite circles.

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