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2 - The Agōn of Friendship

Sensory Rhetoric, Gift Exchange, and the Aesthetics of Aretē

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 November 2022

Nathan D. Howard
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Martin
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Summary

Chapter 2 explores the circulation of masculinity through the lens of friendship and sensory rhetoric. Coordinating the language of Christian fellowship and classical friendship, the Cappadocians involved correspondents in an aesthetic based on a union of souls. Using imagery of the body to express affinity of soul, the Cappadocians engaged correspondents in an agōn predicated on mutual faith and/or shared manhood. These letters of affection mimicked the language of contest with the Cappadocians choreographing encounters based on reciprocal seeing, speaking/hearing, and touching. In portraying union of souls through corporeal imagination, the Cappadocians reordered the bodily senses as masculine. These friendships were reinforced through the care taken in the penmanship of the letters and careful selection of messengers, elements that reflected the performative nature of correspondence. And through framing correspondence as a form of gift-giving, the Cappadocians further underscored friendship and Christian fellowship as elements of masculinity rooted in the traditions of classical Greece.

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Christianity and the Contest for Manhood in Late Antiquity
The Cappadocian Fathers and the Rhetoric of Masculinity
, pp. 103 - 154
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • The Agōn of Friendship
  • Nathan D. Howard
  • Book: Christianity and the Contest for Manhood in Late Antiquity
  • Online publication: 10 November 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009090827.004
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  • The Agōn of Friendship
  • Nathan D. Howard
  • Book: Christianity and the Contest for Manhood in Late Antiquity
  • Online publication: 10 November 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009090827.004
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Agōn of Friendship
  • Nathan D. Howard
  • Book: Christianity and the Contest for Manhood in Late Antiquity
  • Online publication: 10 November 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009090827.004
Available formats
×