Literacy Was Shameful in Ancient Thrace: Aelian Varia Historia, 8.6

“People say that none of the ancient Thracians knew how to read. In fact, the barbarians who live in Europe all believe that reading is the most shameful thing. As the story goes, the barbarians in Asia made a better use of literacy. For this reason, many also dare to claim that Orpheus was not sophisticated because he was Thracian and that the myths about him are complete lies. Androtion alleges these things, if he is any kind of a trustworthy source for the illiteracy and uneducated nature of the Thracians.”

Τῶν ἀρχαίων φασὶ Θρᾳκῶν μηδένα ἐπίστασθαι γράμματα• ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐνόμιζον αἴσχιστον εἶναι πάντες οἱ τὴν Εὐρώπην οἰκοῦντες βάρβαροι χρῆσθαι γράμμασιν. οἱ δὲ ἐν τῇ ᾿Ασίᾳ ὡς λόγος ἐχρῶντο αὐτοῖς μᾶλλον. ἔνθεν τοι καὶ τολμῶσι λέγειν μηδὲ τὸν ᾿Ορφέα σοφὸν γεγονέναι, Θρᾷκα ὄντα, ἀλλ’ ἄλλως τοὺς μύθους αὐτοῦ καταψεύσασθαι. ταῦτα ᾿Ανδροτίων λέγει, εἴ τῳ πιστὸς ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀγραμματίας καὶ ἀπαιδευσίας Θρᾳκῶν τεκμηριῶσαι.

Leave a Reply