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Look Inside The Language of Roman Letters

The Language of Roman Letters
Bilingual Epistolography from Cicero to Fronto


Part of Cambridge Classical Studies

  • Publication planned for: October 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from October 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108480161

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • Roman letters demonstrate that language has imperium: the power to resolve problems, to negotiate relationships and to construct identities. This book combines sociolinguistic and historical approaches to explore how that power is deployed by the bilingual elite of the Roman Republic and Empire, offering the first systematic analysis of Greek code-switches in the letters of Cicero, Pliny, Marcus Aurelius and Fronto and in the Lives of Suetonius. Greek was a subtle tool within Latin epistolary communication, and an analysis of letter writers' bilingual practices reveals their manipulation of language to manage relationships between peers and across hierarchical or political divides, uncovering the workings of politics and society. Comparative analysis of Roman and modern code-switching contributes to the debate on how bilingual strategies in letters evolve and how they relate to oral and literary language. The language of letters illuminates the Roman world and its entanglements with Greek language and culture.

    • The first systematic analysis of developments in bilingual letter writing between the first century BC and the second century AD
    • Combines macro-level comparison across corpora with close reading of code-switches in individual epistolary relationships, time periods, and letters
    • Combines sociolinguistic and historical approaches to ancient letters and develops a new methodology for studying code-switching in literature
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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: October 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108480161
    • length: 346 pages
    • dimensions: 223 x 146 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • availability: Not yet published - available from October 2019
  • Table of Contents

    1. Language and life in letters
    2. A Roman conversation? Code-switching in diachronic context
    3. Republic of letters: the politics of Cicero's Epistolary Code-Switching
    4. Imperial relations: Greek and the lingua Romana of Fronto and friends
    5. The language of letters and beyond: Greek in Suetonius' biographies
    6. Weaving together the threads: epistolary connections.

  • Authors

    Olivia Elder, University of Cambridge
    Olivia Elder holds a CRASSH/British School at Rome Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, having recently completed her doctorate 'Language and the Politics of Roman Identity' at Peterhouse, Cambridge. She is an ancient historian with particular interests in bilingualism, epigraphy, Roman identity and epistolography.

    Alex Mullen, University of Nottingham
    Alex Mullen is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She is co-editor (with Patrick James) of Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds (Cambridge, 2012) and author of Southern Gaul and the Mediterranean (Cambridge, 2013), which won the American Historical Association's James Henry Breasted Prize. She is Principal Investigator of the ERC project The Latinization of the North-Western Roman Provinces: Sociolinguistics, Epigraphy and Archaeology (2017–2022).

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