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The epistolary character of Marcus Caelius Rufus
thesisposted on 2022-03-29, 03:42 authored by Kai James Riley-McPhee
Marcus Caelius Rufus was a young, hot-headed, and complex character in the dramas of the late Roman Republic. This thesis is a study of the fourteen letters he wrote to Marcus Tullius Cicero between 51 and 50 BCE. This small selection of letters will serve as the basis for a subsequent detailed study which aims to read between the lines of the correspondence and identify the underlying character of Caelius and the nature of his self-presentation. To do so, this study will observe the usage or avoidance of particular features of the epistolary genre, including the use of politeness, humour, sarcasm, seriousness, and the making of requests. By observing the circumstances in which these features of communication are employed or avoided, valuable biographical data concerning important historical figures will be revealed, along with sociolinguistic data relevant to how individuals communicate in different circumstances and contexts. There has been a plethora of scholarly work on different communicative and epistolary features. By and large, this scholarship is concerned primarily with what function different features serve, but not what their use tells us about the user. We understand clearly what being polite is meant to achieve, but what does it say about the letter writer himself?