1. General

Of the prose letters that have come down to us from Greek antiquity a few, like the short letters of Epicurus, are letters in the simple sense of the word; most are “literary efforts,” some genuine, like the amusing and informative letters of Synesius or the vapourings of Dionysius of Antioch, some forged, like the letters attributed to Phalaris or to Socrates. “Forged” is perhaps a dangerous word to use in some cases; the line between letters forged with intent to deceive and letters forged without such intent is often difficult or impossible to draw. In the case of the letters in the present volume, however, there is no such difficulty: they are forged without intent to deceive (i.e., they are “imaginary”), and they all illustrate, in one or way another, the workings of that “Second Sophistic” which so rarely had the art to hide its art. Some of them are genre letters suggestive of the pastoral idyll, the names of writers and of addressees being avowedly fictitious: some of them purport to be written by historical characters to historical characters. Some of them have a dramatic date earlier than their real date: in some the author sets no dramatic date at all. Some have local colour: some have not. Some are love

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.alciphron-letters_book_i_letters_fishermen.1949