Philologisches Seminar

Writing and Doing amicitia: Literarische Konstruktion von Freundschaft im Briefwechsel zwischen Plinius und Trajan

‘Writing and doing amicitia‘ – the title combines concepts of the performative turn which are used on the research of imperial-senatorial friendship between Pliny and Trajan.

The doctoral thesis is concerned with the literary construction of amicitia in the epistolary correspondence between Pliny and Trajan. Amicitia is hereby set into the context of imperial communication and understood as a constitutive element of the socio-political order of the Trajanic Principate.

In the context of the performative turn in the area of cultural and social sciences, historical research dealing with authority and power has shifted attention to dynamic processes of communication between rulers and the ruled. Political orders, social norms, and collective values manifest themselves in their immediate interaction, are constituted, renewed, or even transformed, but are dependent on the physical co-presence of the ruler and the ruled.

The dissertation project investigates the question of how communication between Pliny and Trajan is possible despite their lacking physical co-presence and seeks to answer these questions from a performative-narratological approach. Questions to be dealt with include: How did letters function as a medium and essential part of imperial communication? What significance did letters have as a means of political communication and social interaction between the Princeps and Roman aristocracy ? Which narrative strategies evoking symbolisms of amicitia between Trajan and Plinius can be identified? Amicitia as a constitutive element of the socio-political order is, as this dissertation wants to show, constituted and renewed in literary communication.

Epistula Narrans. Narrative Modelling in Latin Epistolography. International Graduate and Early Career Conference, Tübingen, July 5-7th, 2018

Tübingen Working Group "Narrative Dynamics in Latin Literature"