Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-2-2018


This project analyzes the letters between Marcus Cornelius Fronto and his student Marcus Aurelius as works of literature, rather than merely sites for historical mining. The letters, I argue, contain carefully constructed tropes of rhetoric and feature intentional polish that serve as opportunities for discussion about the virtues of philosophy and rhetoric during the Second Sophistic. Topics of discussions between both parties range between the imagery of sleep, and intimate spaces, like bedrooms, to substantive allusions to Plato’s philosophy and his dialogue Phaedrus. By looking beyond the identification of concrete names and dates to the literary, referential, and personal world of Aurelius and Fronto’s correspondence, the reader is afforded a valuable window into the development of letter writing, rhetoric, and education in the Antonine period.


Fronto, Marcus Aurelius, Letters, Epistolography, Education, Rhetoric

Document Type




Degree Name

Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Osman Umurhan

Second Committee Member

Monica Cyrino

Third Committee Member

Lorenzo F. Garcia, Jr.