Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity [book]

Pauline Allen, Bronwen Neil
2020 unpublished
Late Antiquityby which we mean the period from 300 to 600 cehas rightly been called the golden age of epistolography, one which has few equivalents, even taking Cicero, Pliny the Younger, Fronto or Cyprian into account. 1 Mullett notes that fourth-and fifth-century Greek letters make up the majority of Byzantine letters. 2 O'Brien points out that in the third century 177 letters survive from eleven writers in Latin, while from the fourth century the works of twenty-one epistolographers have
more » ... down to us in 395 letters, and 933 from forty-one writers from the fifth century, while after the sixth century the number of letters falls off sharply. 3 This exponential increase in epistolary activity is all the more surprising given that in the Classical period only eminent and politically active people could afford a private postal service, 4 and given the relatively high mortality rate of ancient letters. 5 Yet the importance and extent of Greek and Latin letterwriting in Late Antiquity has only recently been recognised by historians of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. 6 A great deal of attention has recently been paid to travel and information-transfer, 7 and to the role of the bishop in this periodnot primarily, however, as a letter-writer, while most of the letters surviving to us from that time were written by bishops. 8
doi:10.1017/9781108186834 fatcat:6byuwjc4wvecdjhmd4jwykcunu