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13. A Cooperative Correspondence: The Letters of Gregory the Great

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Chapter Summary

It is a seemingly arcane feature of Latin prose style that will offer the most help in identifying the men behind Gregory, namely Latin prose-rhythm. It beggars belief that Gregory would only use prose-rhythm in some of his letters, and not in his most important, personal letters, nor, for that matter, in any of his other works. Most significantly, Gregory seems to have entrusted his entire correspondence with Frankish royalty to his subordinates. In terms of style, Gregory's writers quietly upheld an older standard of Latinity, prose-rhythm, in a carefully and strictly devised form, that the pope had either abandoned or never learned. The letters produced by Gregory's papacy show him to have been an incredibly capable, intelligent ecclesiastical figure. Careful study of Latin prose-rhythm shows that Gregory's papacy continued the standard practice of employing letter writers, even if he has a deserved reputation as an extremely active pope.

Keywords: Frankish royalty; Gregory's papacy; Latin prose-rhythm



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