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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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Letters, Diplomacy, and the Roman Conquest of Greece

Letters, Diplomacy, and the Roman Conquest of Greece

Chapter:
(p.185) 6 Letters, Diplomacy, and the Roman Conquest of Greece
Source:
Letters and Communities
Author(s):

Robin Osborne

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198804208.003.0007

The chapter explores the ways in which the generic expectations of the letter differ from those of the decree, insofar as letters tend to contain discursive explanations of, or background to, the requests or decisions that they convey: the sender of a letter will not simply send instructions but will attempt to enable the recipient to understand why those instructions are being given, or at least to put them into a broader context. More specifically, Osborne argues that the Roman adoption of the convention, established by Hellenistic kings, that they would respond to cities’ embassies by writing letters, led to particular expectations about the Roman political community and about the ways in which authority was constituted at Rome—an important factor in shaping the peculiar and unhappy dynamic of the Roman intervention in the Greek world in the early second century BCE.

Keywords:   royal correspondence, city-decrees, generic conventions, Greece and Rome, cross-cultural miscommunication, epistolary rhetoric, persuasion

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