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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 Quintus Aurelius Symmachus

The Letter Collection of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus

(p.175) Eleven The Letter Collection of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus
Late Antique Letter Collections

Cristiana Sogno

University of California Press

The collection of Symmachus’s letters is one of the largest to survive from Antiquity, but the notorious brevity and apparent emptiness of the letters have been until recently the object of scholarly censure and dismissal. A careful and unbiased approach, however, suggests that the carefully wrought brevitas of Symmachus’s letters is a creative response to the challenges posed by the greater restrictions imposed on letter writing in his times. Ultimately, an interesting tension emerges between the autobiographical monumentality of the macrotext, represented by the letter collection as a whole, and the exemplary brevity of the letters, miniature works of art in their own right.

Keywords:   Cristiana Sogno, Latin letters, brevitas, Cicero, Macrotext, Pliny

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