Ancient Epistolary Fictions: The Letter in Greek Literature - download pdf or read online

By Patricia A. Rosenmeyer

ISBN-10: 0511017774

ISBN-13: 9780511017773

ISBN-10: 0521800048

ISBN-13: 9780521800044

This ebook deals the 1st entire examine using imaginary letters in Greek literature from Homer to Philostratus. by way of 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 ecu epistolary novel culture.

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The conventions of guest friendship are such that the guest is welcomed and entertained before he is asked for any tokens of identi®cation; we see this throughout the Homeric epics, particularly during Odysseus' travels. In the case of Bellerophon, the letter condemning him to death lies unopened and ignored for nine days before his host turns to business: its message can be activated only by the act of reading. Proetus' hostile words lie unseen and therefore powerless, while the Lycian king treats his guest with honor and generosity.

6 But in spite of these chronological constraints, we can easily view the tablets as some kind of su m˜olon, not necessarily alphabetic, of guest-friendship ties. If such tokens sent with travelers were rare, Bellerophon would no doubt become suspicious of his burden. But instead, we might infer, he views the tablets as a conventional 3 R. Bellamy, ``Bellerophon's Tablet,'' CJ 84 (1989) 289±307. 4 Steiner (1994) 15. 5 Steiner (1994) 16. 6 Harris (1989) 45±48. 42 Epistolary ®ctions symbol of hospitality and guest-recognition, and mistakenly assumes that the information within matches the external circumstances of his travel.

I am tempted to interpret this moment of invention as a public rather than a private matter. If Atossa had been trying to reach a friend or relative, she could have sent a trusted slave with an oral message. The information for which she invented the letter must have been secret, political, and with potentially serious rami®cations. , to which we will have occasion to return. It is hard to say what Hellanicus really meant by making Atossa the ®rst inventor. The Persians were famous in antiquity for their 14 The Greek text is O.

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


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