16 December 2009

Morello, Ruth; Morrison, A. D. (eds.) (2007) Ancient letters: classical and late antique epistolography. Oxford etc.: Oxford University Press. XVII, 373 p. ISBN 978-0-19-920395-6 (hb). Price not stated.

This is another welcome contribution to the study of ancient epistolography, which has become more and more popular in recent years. The volume, which has developed from the Ancient Letters Conference in 2004 (Manchester), focuses on the purpose of epistolary form: what epistolary features make the letter form especially attractive wherever another form might be available to the writer? A concise editors' preface is followed by an "Introduction: what is a letter?" (Roy K. Gibson and A. D. Morrison) and 14 essays exploring the varieties and rhetorical advantages of the letter form. These include "Down among the documents: criticism and papyrus letters" (G. O. Hutchinson), "'... when who should walk into the room but ...': epistolarity in Cicero, Ad Qfr 3.1" (John Henderson), "Cicero's 'stomach': political indignation and the use of repeated allusive expressions in Cicero's correspondence" (Stanley E. Hoffer), "Didacticism and epistolarity in Horace's Epistles 1" (A. D. Morrison), "The importance of form in Seneca's philosophical letters" (Brad Inwood), "Letters of recommendation and the rhetoric of praise" (Roger Rees), "Confidence, inuidia, and Pliny's epistolary curriculum" (Ruth Morello), "The letter's the thing (in Pliny, Book 7)" (William Fitzgerald), "The epistula in ancient scientific and technical literature, with special reference to medicine" (D. R. Langslow), "Back to Fronto: doctor and patient in his correspondence with an Emperor" (Annelise Freisenbruch), "Alciphron's epistolarity" (Jason König), "Better than speech: some advantages of the letter in the Second Sophistic" (Owen Hodkinson), "Mixed messages: the play of epistolary codes in two Late Antique Latin correspondences" (Jennifer Ebbeler) and "St Patrick and the art of allusion" (Andrew Fear, together with an appendix containing the Latin text of Patrick's "Epistola ad milites Corotici" and the English translation of it by David Howlett). The volume ends with joint bibliography, an index locorum and a general index.

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