By Patricia A. Rosenmeyer
This ebook deals the 1st complete examine using imaginary letters in Greek literature from Homer to Philostratus. through 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 booklet demanding situations the concept 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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Extra resources for Ancient Epistolary Fictions: The Letter in Greek Literature
This epistolary model will resurface in examples from history, tragedy, and the ancient novel. But the later genres inevitably treat letters di¨erently in that, unlike epic, they ¯ourish in a culture wholly familiar with writing. The Bellerophon passage introduces a second theme that is picked up by later authors, namely that of women and letters. Proetus may write the actual letter, but his rebu¨ed wife in essence dictates its contents. It is not accidental that women are closely associated with dangerous or deceptive aspects of writing.
StaÈhlin, Clemens Alexandrinus Stromata Buch I±VI, vol ii, 3rd edn. (Berlin 1960) 50 ( Strom. 10). See also the version in Hellanicus ( Jacoby FGrH 4 fr. 178). The word used for composing is not ``to write'' (grÂfein), but rather ``to organize or compose in an orderly fashion'' (suntÂ xi, or suntÂ ssein in Hellanicus), which Jacoby in Hellanicus glosses as euÁ ren. See also the discussion in W. Roberts, History of Letter Writing from the Earliest Period to the 5th Century (London 1843) 1±2, and M.
27): otherwise, if paper was already in use, why is it known to have been the custom to write on lead folding tablets or linen sheets, or why did Homer assert that even in Lycia itself wooden tablets, and not paper letters, were given to Bellerophon? Bellerophon carries a letter between the writer and the receiver, but is not told the contents of his burden. The sealed and unread text will haunt letter carriers in centuries to come; some will have the courage to break open the document and avoid the death planned for them at the hands of the receiver, whereas others, all too obedient, will be killed as soon as they deliver the letter.