Test Cover Image of:  Material Aspects of Letter Writing in the Graeco-Roman World

Material Aspects of Letter Writing in the Graeco-Roman World

c. 500 BC – c. AD 300

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Open Access
Letter writing was widespread in the Graeco-Roman world, as indicated by the large number of surviving letters and their extensive coverage of all social categories. Despite a large amount of work that has been done on the topic of ancient epistolography, material and formatting conventions have remained underexplored, mainly due to the difficulty of accessing images of letters in the past. Thanks to the increasing availability of digital images and the appearance of more detailed and sophisticated editions, we are now in a position to study such aspects. This book examines the development of letter writing conventions from the archaic to Roman times, and is based on a wide corpus of letters that survive on their original material substrates. The bulk of the material is from Egypt, but the study takes account of comparative evidence from other regions of the Graeco-Roman world. Through analysis of developments in the use of letters, variations in formatting conventions, layout and authentication patterns according to the sociocultural background and communicational needs of writers, this book sheds light on changing trends in epistolary practice in Graeco-Roman society over a period of roughly eight hundred years. This book will appeal to scholars of Epistolography, Papyrology, Palaeography, Classics, Cultural History of the Graeco-Roman World.

Author Information

Antonia Sarri,Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany.


"To conclude, I want to highlight the innovative and fresh approach that this book brings to the topic of letter writing in Antiquity. It will be of great use and interest to specialists and generalists alike. [...] In short, Sarri provides a praiseworthy study of Greco-Roman letter writing that not only sheds new light on the formal and material aspects of ancient epistolary practices, but also provides new data that will serve the larger body of scholars interested in literacy and literary culture in Antiquity."Celia Sánchez Natalías in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019.05.47 "[...] il volume è destinato a diventare, in virtù della sua accuratezza, un lavoro di riferimento non solo, dal punto di vista dei contenuti, per gli studiosi di epistolografia antica, ma anche, dal punto di vista della metodologia, per quanti si preoccupano di indagare il legame imprescindibile che unisce i testi documentari ai loro supporti. Il ricco apparato iconografico che ne arricchisce le pagine e che invoglia il lettore a sfogliarle con gusto è ben degno della materialità a cui lo studio è dedicato."Alice Bencivenni in: sehepunkte 18 (2018), Nr. 7/8 [15.07.2018], URL: http://www.sehepunkte.de/2018/07/31327.html

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Audience: All those interested in Epistolography, Papyrology, Palaeography, Classics or Cultural History of the Graeco-Roman World.