A great deal is known about reading in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, but it is important to remember that a good deal of what we think of as Greek and Roman literature was heard and not read. The Greek and Roman Empires included readers, but it was orality that remained the prized preserves of intellectuals. Writing and reading were often seen as both socially and politically disruptive. ‘Ancient worlds’ considers how slowly, but surely, reading aloud in a group gave way to solitary, silent reading. It also explains how it was Roman society that promoted reading and writing among more than a small bureaucratic and priestly elite.