The first book of Symmachus’ correspondence as a separate collection

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The letters of Q. Aurelius Symmachus (340/5‒402) survive in 10 books. The longstanding assumption that these were all published by his son after his death has increasingly been called into question by scholars. This article looks at Book I of the letters, accepting Callu’s suggestion that the book was published by Symmachus in his lifetime, as can be inferred from, inter alia, its chronologically narrow focus, important addressees, careful arrangement, and linguistic and allusive polish. Callu and others who have accepted this point believed that the latest letter in the book was from 384, the year of Symmachus’ urban prefecture: surveying the dating of individual letters in the book, I argue that none is demonstrably later than 381. The book might therefore be seen as dating to 381 or 382: the self-advertisement of a young aristocrat who had not yet held the highest offices, but had the nobility, eloquence, and excellent connections to merit them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCulture and Literature in Latin Late Antiquity
Subtitle of host publicationContinuities and Discontinuities
EditorsP.F. Moretti, R. Ricci, C. Torre
Place of PublicationTurnhout
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)978-2-503-55735-9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

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