Mere Letters on a Page

Gilbert Murray, Religio Grammatici:

“We intellectuals of the twentieth century, poor things, are so intimately accustomed to the use of grammata that probably many of u s write more than we talk and read far more than we listen. Language has become to us primarily a matter of grammata. We have largely ceased to demand from the readers of a book any imaginative transliteration into the living voice . But mankind was slow in acquiescing in this renunciation. Isocrates in a well-known passage (5, 10) of his ‘Letter to Philip,’ laments that the scroll he sends will not be able to say what he wants it to say. Philip will hand it to a secretary, and the secretary, neither knowing nor caring what it is all about, will read it out ‘with no persuasiveness, no indication of changes of feeling, as if he were giving a list of items.”


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