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Ancient LettersClassical and Late Antique Epistolography$
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Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203956.001.0001

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Mixed Messages: The Play of Epistolary Codes in Two Late Antique Latin Correspondences *

Mixed Messages: The Play of Epistolary Codes in Two Late Antique Latin Correspondences *

(p.301) 13 Mixed Messages: The Play of Epistolary Codes in Two Late Antique Latin Correspondences*
Ancient Letters

Jennifer Ebbeler

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers two celebrated epistolary relationships from the 4th century AD: the famously dysfunctional correspondence of Augustine and Jerome, and the reputedly bitter final years of Ausonius' correspondence with his former pupil Paulinus. In both of these exchanges, epistolary codes are cleverly manipulated to remarkable rhetorical effect; and any explication of what went wrong (or right) in these complicated letter exchanges requires close attention to the ‘rules’ of the epistolary game. In the case of Augustine and Jerome, the chapter argues that the discernible hostilities in the correspondence arise because Augustine deliberately refuses to play the iuuenis to Jerome's senex and instead represents himself as Jerome's exegetical equal. In the case of Ausonius and Paulinus, on the other hand, it is precisely through their careful adherence to the codes of father-son letters that evidence for a persistent amicitia can be seen despite apparent tensions.

Keywords:   epistolary codes, Latin correspondences, ancient letters, Augustine, Jerome, Ausonius, Paulinus

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