<i>Familiaritas</i> in Erasmian Rhetoric and Hermeneutics

Kathy Eden

in The Renaissance Rediscovery of Intimacy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780226184623
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226184647 | DOI:
Familiaritas in Erasmian Rhetoric and Hermeneutics

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Erasmus assumes his office in the republic of letters as an educational reformer, grounding his agenda for reform, following his Italian predecessors, in the complementary activities of not only reading and writing but reading and writing familiar letters, especially Cicero's. Erasmus imports into northern Europe the very rhetoric of intimacy that Cicero labeled writing familiariter and Petrarch sought to revive in Familiares. It adds to the chorus of epistolary theorists describing the letter in terms of the style that defines a conversation between friends. Erasmus follows the rhetoricians especially Quintilian, in taking the persuasive oration as the point of departure for epistolary writing in De conscribendis epistolis. The writing familiariter bears on the relation between the correspondents rather than on the subject matter. The conciliatory and commendatory impulses are either confined to the letter's opening or identified more narrowly with two kinds of letter, both of which fall under the persuasive category while preserving their close association with intimacy.

Keywords: intimacy; familiariter; Erasmus; rhetoric; epistolary theorists

Chapter.  10446 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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