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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 Sidonius Apollinaris

The Letter Collection of Sidonius Apollinaris

Chapter:
(p.309) Nineteen The Letter Collection of Sidonius Apollinaris
Source:
Late Antique Letter Collections
Author(s):

Sigrid Mratschek

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520281448.003.0021

Sidonius is a highly allusive author. The design for his collection of 147 letters explicitly recalls the earlier models of Pliny the Younger and Symmachus, yet Sidonius’s letters are more creative than has been recognized. His letters are less concerned with retelling events than with recalling thematic motifs of the inspiring reign of the emperor Trajan. His evocation of literary role models prompts his audience to engage in discourse with past voices that are made relevant in the present. However, the collection’s fundamental ordering principle is not chronological but aesthetic. It shows the writer using prose letters to present himself in the competing roles of lyric poet and dignified bishop. Literary-epistolographical analysis of Sidonius’ art and coded communication then provide the key to understanding both the collection of letters and the construction of Sidonius’s ‘self’ within them.

Keywords:   Sigrid Mratschek, Sidonius Apollinaris, Gaul, Trajan, Pliny, Symmachus

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