Epistolary Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature by Owen Hodkinson

By Owen Hodkinson

The literary letter was once the most flexible and well known types of writing in Greek antiquity, but one of many least broadly studied this present day. using the letter inside narrative or as narrative medium is anything which the traditional Greek literary culture tested as imperative to the western international (especially in the course of the letters of Plato, Hippocrates and the Christian epistolographers). This quantity provides designated literary readings of quite a lot of Greek literary letter collections. by means of comparability of many of the narrative techniques taken inside of Greek epistolary texts throughout a number of genres, cultural backgrounds, and time sessions, the quantity takes an important step in the direction of the appreciation of Greek epistolary collections as a distinct literary phenomenon.

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10 On the myth, see Cropp 2000: 43–56; Taplin 2007: 149–150. 11 Taplin 2007: 25. 12 Taplin 2007: 150. 1 in Beazley 1963, and the entry for “Iphigenia” in LIMC (vol. 1, pp. 714–715; illustrations in vol. 2, p. 469). The vase is discussed in the context of Euripides’ play in Taplin 2007: 152–153; Shapiro 1994: 170–171; and Cambitoglou 1975: 56–66. 1 of LIMC, pp. 2, pp. 466–482. the appearance of letters on stages and vases 43 Figure 1: Attic red-figure calyx-krater.

By Xenophon’s time, however, in spite of their relative scarcity in the texts themselves, letters are more commonplace. Deborah Gera points to many instances in Xenophon’s writings where letters are mentioned casually in passing, and argues that it is highly likely that many more real-life letters are hiding behind various forms of the verb “to send” (pempein). Letters are an important part of Xenophon’s real and fictional worlds: some of Xenophon’s letters remind us of letters in Herodotus, Thucydides, or Ctesias, while others reflect more mundane concerns and details, pointing to a greater familiarity with written communication compared with the world of the earlier historiographers.

G. 7. 36 owen hodkinson and patricia a. rosenmeyer The chapters to follow span a large chronological and generic range, and attempt to provide an overview and introduction to the vast number of letters and letter collections available in the Greek world from earliest times to later antiquity. While the volume may include some epistolary narratives at the cost of others, no such undertaking can please all readers; it is the hope of the editors that it will at least encourage further discussion of these fascinating and underservedly neglected texts.

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