General History of Punctuation
We may think that punctuation was created within the immediate family of language ( or at least a distant cousin ); however, that’s not the case. The lack of punctuation wasn’t seen as a problem in countries such as Rome and Greece, who relied on the power of speech rather than the written word. Punctuation wasn’t introduced until the 3rd Century BCE by Aristophanes, an Egyptian chief of staff at Alexandria’s most famous library, who apparently had “had enough” of all the frustratingly time-consuming scrolls the library housed.
Aristophanes introduced dots of ink aligned with the middle (·), bottom (.) or top (·) of each line, representing simple pauses reflecting natural conversation. Unfortunately, this method was abandoned when Rome overthrew the Greek empire. Public speaking remained the dominant form of communication until the Roman empire crumbled in the 3rd and 4th century AD, giving way to Christianity. By the 6th century, Christian writers used punctuation in their own works to preserve the original context. Books became an integral part of the religion’s expansion by spreading the word through psalms and gospels, which included paragraph marks (Γ, ¢, 7, ¶ and others).
It was a Spanish scholar, Isidore of Seville, who updated Aristophanes’ system in the 7th Century by arranging the dots in order of height to indicate short (.), medium (·) and long (·) pauses respectively. Most importantly, Isidore connected punctuation with meaning for the first time in written history; however, it was Irish and Scottish monks who introduced spaces between words. And it was a German monk named Alcuin, under the direction of King Charlemagne, who created what we know as lowercase letters.
Writing had come of age, and punctuation was an indispensable part of it.
* We'll break here for comments before moving onto our first symbol, the Period! Or, commonly known in poetry as the end stop.