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Letters and CommunitiesStudies in the Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography$
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Paola Ceccarelli, Lutz Doering, Thorsten Fögen, and Ingo Gildenhard

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198804208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804208.001.0001

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Couriers and Conventions in Cicero’s Epistolary Network

Couriers and Conventions in Cicero’s Epistolary Network

Chapter:
(p.81) 2 Couriers and Conventions in Cicero’s Epistolary Network
Source:
Letters and Communities
Author(s):

Schröder Bianca-Jeanette

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198804208.003.0003

There was no postal service in antiquity: transmission of letters therefore always involved someone who carried the letter from sender to addressee. This chapter shows that the courier has to be inserted, as an important figure in his own right, into the complex and fascinating picture of etiquette and interaction that defined ancient epistolary communication. With special reference to the correspondence of Cicero, Schröder demonstrates that the author of a letter had to take into account not only the letter’s recipient and other potential readers within his circle (and beyond) but also, and every bit as much, the courier, who loomed over the potential contents of any letter as an inevitable frame and first filter. Detailed readings of passages from Cicero’s epistolary corpus illustrate the implications of this hitherto much-neglected aspect of letter-writing for our understanding of his correspondence.

Keywords:   postal service, letter-carrier, couriers, confidentiality, news, Marcus Cicero, Atticus, Quintus Cicero, epistolary conventions

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