New Approaches to Written Documents in Imperial Life and Literature

This volume unites scholars of classical epigraphy, papyrology, and literature to analyze the documentary habit in the Roman Empire. Texts like inscriptions and letters have gained importance in classical scholarship, but there has been limited analysis of the imaginative and sociological dimensions of the ancient document. Individual chapters investigate the definition of the document in ancient thought, and how modern understandings of documentation may (mis)shape scholarly approaches to documentary sources in antiquity. Contributors reexamine familiar categories of ancient documents through the lenses of perception and function, and reveal where the modern understanding of the document departs from ancient conceptions of documentation. The boundary between literary genres and documentary genres of writing appears more fluid than prior scholarship had allowed. Compared to modern audiences, inhabitants of the Roman Empire used a more diverse range of both non-textual and textual forms of documentation, and they did so with a more active, questioning attitude. The interdisciplinary approach to the “mentality” of documentation in this volume advances beyond standard discussions of form, genre, and style to revisit the document through the eyes of Greco-Roman readers and viewers.

Available from De Gruyter.