By Patricia A. Rosenmeyer

ISBN-10: 0511017774

ISBN-13: 9780511017773

ISBN-10: 0521800048

ISBN-13: 9780521800044

This booklet bargains the 1st entire examine using imaginary letters in Greek literature from Homer to Philostratus. via imaginary letters, it ability letters written within the voice of one other, and both inserted right into a narrative (epic, historiography, tragedy, the novel), or comprising a free-standing assortment (e.g. the Greek love letter collections of the Imperial Roman period). The publication demanding situations the suggestion that Ovid "invented" the fictitious letter shape within the Heroides, and considers a wealth of Greek antecedents for the later eu epistolary novel culture.

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Additional info for Ancient Epistolary Fictions: The Letter in Greek Literature

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We will return to this issue when considering the embedded letters in Herodotus. But Steiner's point that the historian emphasizes the foreign nature of private writing, its essentially undemocratic nature, sits well with the myth of Atossa's invention. It is unlikely that we will ever be able to pinpoint the exact moment of the discovery of letter writing, but we can connect historical letters with the general spread of literacy in antiquity. In Greek poetry, the ®rst reference to writing is a reference to a letter: Bellerophon carries horrible signs (Hom.

West, ``Herodotus' Epigraphical Interests,'' CQ 35 (1985) 278±305; and F. Hartog, Le Miroir d'HeÂrodote (Paris 1980) 282±97. 45 46 Epistolary ®ctions documentary research was not his main goal, and on occasion he freely invents texts: not only speeches which he could not possibly have heard, but even texts, such as letters, which had been written down and might still have been available for copying. In this latter case, the role of the author took precedence over that of the historian, the impact of the whole scene over the exact words.

26 The Berezan lead letter may disappoint in its apparent triviality: a minor legal squabble between two men, expanding to a¨ect their immediate families and business partners. But it serves us well as a model for later literary epistolary developments. Many conventions found here will reappear in ®ctional letters: the formal opening, the careful use of an identi®able third-person voice, the mixture of political and family a¨airs, the use of a letter in a time of crisis. Also, the drama of the lawsuit takes on greater urgency when we realize that this letter may never have reached its addressee; it was found still folded and sealed, and no return letter tells us how matters ended for Achillodorus and his family.

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Ancient Epistolary Fictions: The Letter in Greek Literature by Patricia A. Rosenmeyer


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