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Emotions and the Body

Emotions and the Body in Greco-Roman Medicine

Sponsored by the Society for Ancient Medicine and Pharmacy (SAM). SAM is an affiliated group of the Society for Classical Studies.

In what ways, and to what ends, were emotions medicalized, pathologized, or otherwise subject to medical investigation or therapy in antiquity? An abundance of recent work has opened up new avenues of investigation into ancient medical approaches to the emotions. Thumiger (2017) studies Hippocratic responses to bodily and humoral mixtures that shape both normal and pathological emotional states in the context of a larger project on ancient approaches to mental disorders. Kazantzidis (2019) connects Hippocratic analyses of emotional affect to contemporary theories of distributed cognition, locating the “affective body” against the backdrop of the theory of emotional response sketched in Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Nor should this study be limited to the Hippocratic corpus, of course: for example, Galen’s De indolentia has inspired a range of recent scholarly projects, including Rothschild and Thompson’s 2014 volume of essays, while Aelius Aristides’ emotional affair with Asclepius continues to invite study. We welcome papers reflecting on any aspect of medical approaches to the emotions in the ancient Mediterranean, including considerations of the relationship between psychē and sōma, studies in the changes over time from Hippocratic to later models of the feeling body, integrations of affect theory with ancient medicine, etc.

Accepted papers will be presented on the SAM panel at the SCS at the 2021 Annual Meeting, which will be held January 7-10 in Chicago. Applicants must be members of the SCS at the time of application.

Please send an abstract of 500 words of your proposed paper (20 min.) by e-mail to Courtney Roby ( The abstract should omit any reference identifying the author to ensure anonymity in the review process.  Deadline for submission of abstracts is March 15, 2020. The organizers will review all submissions anonymously, and their decision will be communicated to the authors of abstracts with enough time that those whose abstracts are not chosen can participate in the individual abstract submission process for the upcoming SCS meeting.

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