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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 Isidore of Pelusium

The Letter Collection of Isidore of Pelusium

Chapter:
(p.286) Eighteen The Letter Collection of Isidore of Pelusium
Source:
Late Antique Letter Collections
Author(s):

Lillian I. Larsen

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520281448.003.0020

With an attributed corpus of two thousand letters the collection of Isidore of Pelusium is the largest surviving epistolary collection from late antiquity, and yet Isidore plays a relatively limited role in popular recountings of the history of Late Antiquity in general and the emergence of Egyptian “desert monasticism” in particular. Isidore may have had a hand in preserving his letters, but the earliest letter collections were probably compiled by Isidore’s disciples, perhaps as a memorial to his ascetic authority. These first collections are roughly dated to the period immediately following Isidore death and were presumably organized and assembled at the monastery where Isidore resided. There is general agreement that a corpus of two thousand letters served as archetype for the principal Greek manuscripts that circulated in the West, and the published editions of Isidore’s letters appear to derive from the earliest of these manuscripts. Here again, however, the trajectory of transmission, albeit well documented, is less than linear.

Keywords:   Lillian Larsen, Isidore of Pelusium, Greek letters, Desert monasticism

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