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The Scribes of Rome
A Cultural and Social History of the Scribae


  • Date Published: September 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108713740

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About the Authors
  • In a society in which only a fraction of the population was literate and numerate, being one of the few specialists in reading, writing and reckoning meant the possession of an invaluable asset. The fact that the Roman state heavily relied on these professional scribes in financial and legal administration led to their holding a unique position and status. By gathering and analysing the available source material on the Roman scribae, Benjamin Hartmann traces the history of Rome's public scribes from the early Republic to the Later Roman Empire. He tells the story of men of low social origin, who, by means of their specialised knowledge, found themselves at the heart of the Roman polity, in close proximity to the powerful and responsible for the written arcana of the state – a story of knowledge and power, corruption and contested social mobility.

    • The first book-length treatment of the subject
    • Adopts a thematic rather than a chronological approach
    • Focuses on cultural and social history within an overarching theoretical framework
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2021
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108713740
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.343kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Imagining the Roman scriba
    2. The human archive
    3. The attendant
    4. The profiteer
    5. The parvenu
    6. The Roman scriba reimagined
    Appendix The Roman scribae
    General index
    Index locorum.

  • Author

    Benjamin Hartmann, Universität Zürich
    Benjamin Hartmann is a former Research and Teaching Assistant in Ancient History at the University of Zurich and currently works as an independent researcher. His research focuses on the role of literacy in the ancient world, ancient cultural and social history and Latin epigraphy. He has mainly published on writing on everyday objects and small finds from the Roman world.

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