Article

Communication in Late Antiquity: Use and Reuse

Andrew Gillett

in The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780195336931
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195336931.013.0025

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Communication in Late Antiquity: Use and Reuse

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This article analyzes one notable aspect of Late Antiquity: the upsurge in letter-writing among social elites and, particularly, in the publication of their letters in edited collections. It argues that the act of collecting and circulating letters is problematic for two reasons. On the one hand, the great letter-collections offer petrified but skewed evidence of the vast, intersecting mesh of one-to-one correspondences that facilitated public life, social strategies, and cultural and religious developments throughout the later Roman Empire and its successor states. On the other hand, the reuse of these communiqu's is a different act, sometimes obscured for us by the convenience of letter-collections as reservoirs of evidence.

Keywords: late antique period; letter writing; letter collections; correspondence; communicative acts

Article.  15310 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Ancient Roman History ; Historical Archaeology

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