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Ancient LettersClassical and Late Antique Epistolography$
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Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203956.001.0001

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Down among the Documents: Criticism and Papyrus Letters *

Down among the Documents: Criticism and Papyrus Letters *

Chapter:
(p.17) 1 Down among the Documents: Criticism and Papyrus Letters*
Source:
Ancient Letters
Author(s):

G. O. Hutchinson (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203956.003.0002

This chapter examines papyrus letters, with emphasis on private letters and their relationship with literature. The role of critical analysis in understanding the link between papyrus private letters and literature are discussed by citing the Greek document The Oxyrhynchus Papyri 2190, a letter from a student to his father dating from around AD 100. The document clearly has a pragmatic function, which must be related to its form; and, as with oratory, any persuasive shaping of the text would scarcely be separable from the text itself. Two approaches can be envisaged from the letter with respect to critical analysis. First, then, the category of literature could be conceived in institutional terms: one might try distinguishing, say, between writing essentially for one reader and writing for readers or listeners beyond one's immediate circle. The second approach, which should be added, would look beyond an institutional division.

Keywords:   ancient letters, papyrus letters, private letters, critical analysis, rhetoric, Greek literature, The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, letter writing

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