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By Patricia A. Rosenmeyer

The 1st referenece to letter writing happens within the first textual content of western literature, Homer's Iliad. From the very starting, Greeks have been enthusiastic letter writers, and letter writing turned a different literary style. Letters have been incorporated within the works of historians yet additionally they shaped the root of works of fiction, and the formal substructure for plenty of types of poem. Patricia Rosenmeyer, an expert at the heritage of the Greek letter, assembles during this booklet a consultant collection of such 'literary letters', from Aelian and Alciphron to Philostrartus and the intended letters of Themistocles. The ebook could be invaluable for all scholars of Greek literature particularly these learning Greek (and Latin) letter.

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Extra info for Ancient Greek Literary Letters: Selections in Translation (Routledge Classical Translations)

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The letters’ humor comes from cynical observations on human selfishness and petty cruelty, as well as from Kronos’ resemblance less to the thundering deity we might expect than to a bureaucrat forced to combine the roles of legal arbitrator and frustrated social worker. While Lucian’s satires, quite influential for later European authors, are still familiar to many readers, the next author in this anthology is obscure even to most classicists. Phlegon was a Greekspeaking freedman from Tralleis in Asia Minor, writing at the time of the emperor Hadrian in the early second century CE (Hansen 1996).

So although the literate public had acquired the epistolary habit in everyday life, the letter as literary device seemed to hold no particular attraction for writers of this period. This conclusion must, of course, be tempered by an awareness of what we may be missing. A great deal of New Comedy is lost to us. The Hellenistic dramatists Alexis, Euthycles, and Machon all wrote comedies, now lost, with the title Epistole; their colleague Timocles staged an Epistolai. References to letters appear in three of Menander’s plays—Epitrepontes, Misoumenos, and Sicyonios—possibly inspiring the Roman comic writer Plautus to open his play Pseudolus with an elaborate critique of a letter written on a wax tablet by a young man’s girlfriend; the discussion between the unhappy lover and his slave, who reads the letter out loud on stage, includes snide comments on the girl’s sloppy handwriting and bad spelling.

At war in Egypt, Chaereas defeats Artaxerxes in battle and wins back Callirhoe. ] Chaereas also wrote this letter to the king: You were about to judge the case, but I’ve already won in the eyes of the best judge: war can best distinguish between the stronger and the weaker. War has returned to me not just my wife [Callirhoe] but yours too [Statira]. I haven’t delayed as you did; instead, without your asking, I’m returning Statira right away. She’s unharmed, and was treated as a queen even in captivity.

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