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Abstract–Connecting People: Mobility and Networks in the Corpus of Greek Private Letters

The goal of this article is primarily to highlight the phenomenon of the communication trough letter-writing from the city to its territory, from territory to territory or towards the inland regions, as a most important form of mobility in the corpus of Greek private letters. Entrusted to close relations or simply to passing people, who in turn confide it to other acquaintances, the letter travels a distance that its senders or its receivers have no doubt never entirely crossed: it is, somehow, the most seasoned traveller. In this way, it is the letter that puts in touch masters and subordinates, families, business partners and friends, whilst having the merit of giving an account of connected, renewed or abruptly-broken contacts. In the colonial environment, which is the result of a long-lasting coexistence, the shared practices operate between Greeks and the local populations, between Greeks of different origins established in the apoikiai, or with other Greeks. From these contacts, economic connections are established, which create a map of the territory and social networks. If some letters reported by the Demosthenic corpus underline the role played by letters in long-distance trade, ostraca and lead letters operate within a more restricted area. My paper focuses on the area where the messages are spread, emphasizing the local and regional networks, as attested by extant evidence.

About Madalina Dana

Madalina Dana (PhD École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) is an Assistant Professor in Ancient Greek History at the University Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne. Her research focuses on cultural history with special interest in mobility and exchanges in cultural context. Her publications include a book about the cultural and professional networks between the Euxine Pontus and the Mediterranean, a co-edited volume about Greek and Roman colonization, and many articles on literacy and epigraphic practices, mobility of the scholars and local history. At the CHS, her project concerns the publication of a corpus of Greek letters on lead and ostraka, coming principally from the edges of the Greek world, that is the northern shore of the Black Sea and the western regions. She will be exploring the literacy of merchants, before treating the economic, commercial and juridical aspects and also the contacts with local populations in colonial milieu. She also co-directs a program at center AnHiMa in Paris, Diktynna. Épigraphie et société dans les mondes hellénistique et romain.

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