Souvenirs of Cicero: Shaping Memory in the Letter Collections

Francesca Martelli
UC Los Angeles

Cicero’s letters have long been valued as among our most important documentary sources for the late Republic. This project will demonstrate that far from being unmediated documents, these texts, when read within the collections that frame their transmission, belong to a set of artfully constructed mosaics, each designed to convey a distinct portrait of their author. Focusing on the letter collection transmitted to us as the ad Familiares, it will show that this collection produces a thoroughly idealizing view of the letters’ author, as it casts him as the exemplar of an age that the subsequent era rewrites with nostalgia.