How did an Athenian citizen address his wife? His children, his slaves, and his dog? How did they address him? This book is the first major application of linguistic theories of address to an ancient language. It is based on a corpus of 11,891 vocatives from twenty-five prose authors from Herodotus to Lucian, and on comparative data from Aristophanes, Menander, and other sources; the data are analysed using techniques and evidence from the field of sociolinguistics to shed light on some long-standing problems in Greek. A separate section discusses the theoretical problems which arise from the attempt to reconstruct conversational Greek on the basis of written texts and concludes that this enterprise is indeed possible, provided that the right sources are selected. Analysis of the Greek address system leads to a reconsideration of the meaning of individual addresses and thus of the interpretation of specific passages; it also challenges the validity of some alleged sociolinguistic 'universals'.
In particular, Professor Dickey examines some of the idiosyncratic aspects of Socrates' language, offering an exceptionally interesting and novel contribution to to the problems of the 'historical Socrates'. Highly original, lucid, and jargon-free, this book offers may significant insights on both the literature and language of ancient Greece,.