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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which discusses how the situation of performance influences the strategies of the texts: how authors try to control their reception or address audiences whose literacy varies, when they address the composer. The book looks at a variety of differences among texts and traditions. A tradition may be transmitted by many channels, only a few, or only one. Repeatedly, varying traditions end as fixed. However, a single text can be adapted and so generate a new round of variations. The book shows that orality and literacy are not distinct compartments into which texts can be assigned, but are essential for thinking with when we consider the dynamics of ancient communication. The chapter also provides an overview of how other chapters of the book are organised.

Keywords: ancient communication; literacy; orality



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