“A Pure World of Signs”: Language and Empire

Daniel S. Richter

in Cosmopolis

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199772681
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895083 | DOI:
“A Pure World of Signs”: Language and Empire

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This chapter examines how early imperial intellectuals thought about Atticism and how the early imperial elite used language and in particular literary Atticism to create a model of the unity of the oikoumenê—in other words, how the language defined its space. It begins with a few representative sketches of Atticism in action, moments at which the rules of the game are broken or the boundaries crossed. The chapter then turns to an extended discussion of Lucian of Samosata’s writing about writing as a way of exploring how an early imperial “outsider” intellectual used language as a mark of his insider status. Finally, the last section of the chapter looks at how certain post-classical authors thought about culture and acculturation as a process and takes as its subject a series of post-classical re-imaginings of stories surrounding the Scythian sage Anacharsis, the model of the Hellenized barbarian who, at least according to Herodotus, was defined by his failure to be both Greek and barbarian.

Keywords: Bourdieu; linguistic capital; Atticism; Koinê; Lucian of Samosata; Favorinus of Arelate; Anacharsis

Chapter.  21008 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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