…on the letters of Marcus Tullius Cicero: proto-social networking or not? Part I

A Classicist Writes...

Strangely – to me anyway! – comparisons between letter writing in Roman antiquity and modern-day digital social networking have been drawn by scholars.  It has even been asserted that social networking can trace its origins to ancient times.  Whether social networking is a credible means of circulating modern news is irrelevant, as it is an oft-used tool today.  I have examined scholarship which has designated Cicero’s letters as proto-social media, and the position that letter-writing in Roman antiquity was a type of social networking does not stand up under my analyses and comparisons.

Cicero may have composed letters with the same ease as he would have spoken; however there were specific tasks assigned to the act of letter-writing (Poster, 2002, pp. 16-18), which appear to contradict the assertion of ease.  In fact, one must contextualise the act of letter-writing, which in Roman antiquity, was an easy and routine task on…

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