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‘Lettered’ Knowledge. Anecdotes in Ancient Epistolography

Subproject by Prof. Dr. Melanie Möller

This subproject deals with the movements of knowledge within anecdotes which entered into the extant collections of Latin letters. Especially those texts which are concerned with a specific genesis and transfer of knowledge shall be extrapolated from Pliny the Younger’s epistolary corpus and investigated regarding their anecdotal structure. Other collections such as Horace’s epistles in verse and Seneca’s moral letters, but also the Ciceronian epistolary corpus (Ad Atticum, Ad Brutum, Ad Familiares) will serve as comparative pieces in order to fashion a typology of anecdotes. Are there any significant differences between more exemplary anecdotes coming from seemingly literary epistles and authentic anecdotes drawn from ‘real’ letters?

Due to their mutual interaction all collections of letters analyzed in this project shall be considered as distinct “oikonomies”. Such “oikonomies” are able to articulate political claims before the addressees and might give significant impulses to their realities as presented in the letter. Therefore, so-called ‘travelling anecdotes’ will play a decisive role determining the existence of a network of epistolary anecdotes.