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Late Antique Letter CollectionsA Critical Introduction and Reference Guide$
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Cristiana Sogno, Bradley K. Storin, and Edward J. Watts

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520281448

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520281448.001.0001

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The Letter Collection of Libanius of Antioch

The Letter Collection of Libanius of Antioch

Chapter:
(p.113) Seven The Letter Collection of Libanius of Antioch
Source:
Late Antique Letter Collections
Author(s):

Lieve Van Hoof

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520281448.003.0009

Libanius’s letter collection is the largest to survive from antiquity, and indeed it is one of the most important sources on the socio-cultural history of late antiquity. Nevertheless, it has been only partially translated and selectively studied; this chapter, by contrast, focuses on the collection as a whole. First, it analyzes the three most important manuscripts, which shows 300 roughly identical letters in varying order. Second, it examines the collection’s design and its effects on interpretation. Finally, it dives into the question of editorial origins: did Libanius or some posthumous admirer compile the collection? Thus this chapter will show that reading Libanius’ letters in their original order—not in the chronological order first proposed by Otto Seeck and adopted by most editors and translators—not only enriches our understanding of the individual letters, but also shows the value of the letter collection as a unified literary composition.

Keywords:   Lieve van Hoof, Libanius of Antioch, social history, macrotext, manuscripts, Greek letters

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