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The sections on the ancient novel and letters themselves make the whole enterprise worthwhile. As Rosenmeyer demonstrates, virtually every epistolary theme we are familiar with found its first use in a Greek text. Beebee, Comparative Literature Studies. Acknowledgments Prologue Part I. Epistolarity: An Introduction: 1. A culture of letter writing Part II. Epistolary Fictions: 2. Homer: the father of letters 3. Letters in the historians 4.

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Staging letters: embedded letters in Euripides 5. The Epistolary Novel: 6. Embedded letters in the Greek novel 7. The Alexander Romance 8. Pseudonymous letter collections 9. Chion of Heraclea: an epistolary novel Part IV.

Epistolography in the Second Sophistic: The Letters of Alciphron Aelian's Rustic Letters Patricia A. Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email lecturers cambridge. This is the first book to deal synoptically with the phenomenon of the letter in Greek literature from Homer to Philostratus.

Epistolography - Oxford Handbooks

The field of 'letters' is of course potentially limitless, and some important parameters have been adopted: the reference to 'literature' in the title is an index both of the subject-matter and of the approach adopted. The dynamics and materialities of epistolary practice in the 'real' world are not a central concern here; this is not a work of social or cultural history, though R.


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The primary focus is upon the function of letters within narrative economy, upon their seductions, lures, assassinations, lies and treasons. The dust-jacket blurb refers to the book's uncovering of a 'wealth of Greek antecedents for the later European epistolary novel tradition'; and cross-cultural analysis spots the book throughout, pointing to a continuing power accorded to the letter from Homer through to Laclos and Richardson.

The book is divided into four sections: section 1 contains a single, introductory chapter; section 2 'Epistolary Fictions' chapters on Homer, Herodotus and Thucydides, Euripides and Hellenistic poetry; section 3 'The Epistolary Novel' chapters on the novel, the Alexander Romance , pseudonymous letter collections and Chion of Heraclea; section 5 'Epistolography in the Second Sophistic' chapters on the letter collections of Alciphron, Aelian and Philostratus.

The coverage, then, is broad, but not comprehensive: comedy, notably, receives little attention though undoubtedly the evidence here would be more difficult to deal with 1.

Epistolary Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature

The Homeric chapter occupies an important role in the argument, constructing a putative fons et origo for the subsequent tradition. According to R. The three elements upon which she focuses are treachery, the association with women, and though the expectation of this is here thwarted friendship with an absent figure. These are certainly elements within the story, but it might have been preferable to read the story within the context of the Homeric narrative, with its emphasis upon deceptive exchange between Diomedes and Glaucus , rather than a later, and necessarily shifting, tradition.

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The emphasis upon the gendering of the letter, in particular, is slightly misplaced. It is not quite the case that Anteia, Proetus' wife whose furtive advances have been rebuffed by Bellerophon 'in essence dictates [the letter's] contents' p. Moreover, for a stronger sense of the influence of the passage, one might have wished for more insight into its later reception, particularly in the admittedly exiguous Sthenoboea tradition. The brief mention in Chion of Heraclea 7 is discussed on pp.


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  8. Chapter 3, on Herodotus and Thucydides, is an efficient survey: Herodotean letters are used for intrigue, secrecy and political manoeuvring territory already well covered by Deborah Tarn Steiner 2 , Thucydidean letters to substantiate the account archivally and to vary the focalisation of the text. But it is with chapter 4, on Euripides, that the argument gathers pace. Here we have a narratologically sophisticated dramatist capable of exploiting the form to generate a new voice of repressed interiority, a voice laying claim to 'authenticity' but simultaneously problematised by the justified fear of deception.

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    The subject-matter is congenial to R. She places particular emphasis upon the formal properties of Euripidean letters, that is to say their facility for constructing involved webs of mis communication across time and space, and also their 'kinetic' powers in relation to plot development: as well as broadening the options for the articulation of the characters' will, letters can also function as material props, and thus as concrete phenomena to be coveted, intercepted, interpreted.

    Chapter 5, on Hellenistic poetry, addresses the interesting question of epistolary epigrams, before moving on to Callimachus' celebrated narrative of Acontius and Cydippe. The section on epigrams introduces the subtleties of transferred identification, whereby the reader mimes the personal voice of the narrator, whether to seduce her or his own beloved R.

    Churls may quibble with R.

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    This volume presents detailed literary readings of a wide range of Greek literary letter collections. By comparison of the various narrative strategies taken within Greek epistolary texts across a range of genres, cultural backgrounds, and time periods, the volume takes a significant step towards the appreciation of Greek epistolary collections as a unique literary phenomenon. He has published several articles on Greek epistolary literature, and a monograph on Philostratus: Authority and Tradition in Philostratus' Heroikos Pensa Multimedia,