Re: Literacy in the West?

From: Danlo Broken Hoof <danlo_at_...>
Date: Fri, 04 Mar 2005 15:07:00 -0000

Sam Elliot wrote:
> Hopefully, common sense will prevail and only an elite few will be
> allowed to know how to read. This is my understanding of what Peter
> said :) It also invites the possibility that the adept or liturgist
> who is not a wizard or clergyman is open to ridicule, has some
> closed etc.

My own take on literacy in the West is that it is fairly widespread, but far from universal, and largely determined by caste or social class. I refer you to this revealing glimpse of the prehistory of literacy in the West:

The implication seems to be that the modern-day Wizard (Zzaburite) caste are the most commonly literate, closely followed by the Rulers (Talari). It's seen as fairly rare amongst Soldiers (Horali) and Commoners (Dronari) though.

Having literacy dependent on occupation (e.g Scholar, Wizard, Clergyman) or religious affiliation (e.g Lankhor Mhy) certainly makes sense in cultures where it is a relatively rare skill, but if it is relatively common (at least in certain social groups) then this does not seem entirely satisfactory.

To put Sam's original question in context: this arose in my game, which is set in an overtly urban setting in Safelster. My concept of the indigenous social hierarchy is more about class than caste. I've also distinguished an additional class (Guildsman), which reflects the importance of a particular socio-economic group in this setting.

I've already assigned the different social classes a distinct set of abilities as part of their Homeland keyword. Hence I'm considering giving the Philosopher (clergy, wizards, scholars) a Read/Write ability as a matter of course, and perhaps making it an option for the Noble (rulers) and Guildsman (merchants and artisans, plus grocers if Sam gets his way) classes.

I also have one church (with a Lankormy association) that teaches reading and writing to all of its worshippers, and another that preaches radical egalitarianism. A combination of the two offers bags of potential for igniting a revolution of class-consciousness in the fledgling proletariat. All I need now is a Gloranthan equivalent of the printing press :)


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