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Letters and CommunitiesStudies in the Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography$
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Paola Ceccarelli, Lutz Doering, Thorsten Fögen, and Ingo Gildenhard

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198804208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804208.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 March 2021

Conversing with the Absent, Corresponding with the Dead

Conversing with the Absent, Corresponding with the Dead

Friendship and Philosophical Community in Seneca’s Letters

(p.325) 13 Conversing with the Absent, Corresponding with the Dead
Letters and Communities

Catharine Edwards

Oxford University Press

The chapter focuses on the genre’s potential, widely recognized by ancient practitioners and theorists alike, to cultivate friendship among individuals who for one reason or other are prevented from interacting face to face. Edwards shows how Seneca co-opts this particular aspect of the genre’s ideology, not least to further his educational programme and his self-conscious aspiration to a broad and enduring readership. Specifically, she argues that Seneca posits important parallels between the relationship amongst absent friends on the one hand and the relationship of philosophically minded students to earlier thinkers and practitioners of philosophy on the other, as both invite (indeed require) dialogic interactions mediated by writing and reading. This conversation with the dead in turn anticipates the mode of interaction between Seneca and future generations (including contemporary audiences).

Keywords:   Seneca, Letters to Lucilius, friendship, conversing with the dead, philosophical communities

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