In the arms of letters: text mechanisms of communication in Late Antique epistolary networks
The study is devoted to identifying textual communication mechanisms in the epistolary tradition of the Latin-speaking world of the 4th-6th centuries. The most illustrative letters of the authors of the Latin West are the main sources of the study. The author draws parallels between Late Antique epistolary networks and social computer networks of our time. Regular correspondence was carried out within the framework of the rhetorical rules that had developed by that time and integrated correspondents into a unified epistolary network or “ego-network”, coordinated by its author-creator. Members of these networks were representatives of the highest social stratum of Late Antique society, who were distinguished by a high level of education (Symmachus, Sidonius Apollinaris, Ruricius of Limoges, et al.). The study is based on the principles of intellectual history (the history of ideas), which studies the sphere of production and transmission of knowledge, the evolution of ideas reflected in texts, verbal forms of communication of intellectuals, for whom literary creativity is a way of life and self-expression, and not a way of earning a livelihood. Comparative method and linguistic analysis were used as the main methods, which revealed the textual mechanisms of communication, giving an idea of the motives and goals of the correspondents, as well as dynamics of Latin in the Late Antiquity. The author comes to the conclusion that the main goals of the correspondence were: communication in a situation when personal contacts were complicated by bad roads, barbarian invasions and attacks of robbers; the preservation of Latin identity, self-presentation, etc. To achieve these goals, such textual communication mechanisms as "captatio benevolentiae" (finding favor) and "laudatio" or rhetoric of praise were used. It allowed the authors of letters not only to honor the merits of the addressee, but also to show their own literary talents. Thus, praise not only stimulated the interlocutor to respond, but also acted as a means of self-presentation. Composing a laudative text, writers used expressive stylistic means: comparison, parallelism, gradation, metaphor, hyperbole.