Comparison Of Amicitia And Pliny's Letters Of Request

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You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Tactics of Amicitia in Cicero and Pliny’s Letters of Request In the highly stratified culture of ancient Roman society, knowing how best to communicate with one’s social betters was necessary in order both to avoid offense and to potentially gain political or social advantages. This is especially apparent in letters of recommendation, or indeed, any letter that made a request of another, as a refusal of a request would have been potentially damaging to one’s reputation. Methods and tactics of form, content, and tone were of paramount importance for writing a successful letter of this nature. This paper seeks to examine how aspects of amicitia were used in the form, content, and tone of Pliny and Cicero’s letters of…show more content…
Coordination between aristocrats was necessary in order to keep the political and bureaucratic functions of the empire running smoothly, and more often than not, the performance of assigned duties would have required the assistance or resources of others. This would have been especially true for those performing these duties at a great distance, as Pliny was during his governorship in Bithynia, Cicero, during his governorship in Cilicia, or Caesar, during his many military campaigns. This distance exacerbated one of the inherent problems of letter­writing in the ancient world: the difficulty of sending and receiving letters. The differing responses of the pairs to this obstacle provide an opportunity for Pliny’s relationship with Trajan to be favourably compared with Cicero’s relationship with Caesar. For although, as White says, Cicero’s relationship with Caesar was “one of the most productive connections that Cicero acquired” in terms of patronage and largess, Caesar’s use of his distance and constant mobility as a tactic of personal manipulation placed Cicero at a distance and emphasized the power disparity between the two.6 Caesar’s correspondence arrived to Cicero through lines of communication that were established by Caesar himself, and he often portrayed himself as busy as well as geographically distant, which lead to letters that were brief and indirect. Often Cicero even had to go as far as learning of Caesar’s opinions through third parties like Balbus, Dolabella, Caelius, and Trebatius.7 This resulted in a relationship in which Caesar held much of the power by obfuscating his intentions and withholding information, while Cicero’s letters were continually anxious and overly obliging in an attempt to get a positive response from Caesar. This

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