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Religious Beliefs and Practices in the Works of Plutarch and his Contemporaries

Sponsored by the International Plutarch Society. Organized by Inger Kuin (University of Virginia) and Zoe Stamatopoulou (Washington University in St. Louis).

Throughout his works, Plutarch shows a sustained interest in religious beliefs and practices. From the dialogues dedicated specifically to the cult of Apollo at Delphi, to the pieties and impieties of the characters featured in the Lives, to his treatises on the Egyptian gods and the ‘superstitious man’ – the gods are never far away. The 2024 IPS panel takes its cue from several recent publications that have shed new light on Plutarch’s approach toward religion and theology, such as Gott und die Götter bei Plutarch, edited by R. Hirsch-Luipold (De Gruyter, 2005), X. Brouillette’s La Philosophie delphique de Plutarque (Belles Letters, 2014), E. Simonetti’s Oracular Divination in the Thought of Plutarch (Leuven University Press, 2017), and Plutarch’s Religious Landscapes, edited by R. Hirsch-Luipold and L. Roig Lanzillotta (Brill, 2021). In the study of ancient Greek and Roman religions broadly, the last two decades have seen a renewed interest in religious belief, theology, and philosophical treatments of both, for instance with the publication of Traditions of Theology, edited by D. Frede and A. Laks (Brill, 2002), H. Versnel’s Coping with the Gods (Brill, 2011), and the volume on Theologies of Ancient Greek Religion, edited by E. Eidinow, J. Kindt and R. Osborne (CUP, 2016). With respect to the imperial period specifically, these topics have taken center stage thanks to works such as Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion in der frühen Kaiserzeit, edited by R. Hirsch-Luipold et al. (Mohr Siebeck, 2009), P. Van Nuffelen’s Rethinking the Gods (CUP, 2011), and T. Morgan’s Roman Faith and Christian Faith (OUP, 2015).
We invite papers that continue the scholarly exploration of religious beliefs, narratives, and practices and of their intersection with philosophy as articulated in the works of Plutarch and/or other intellectuals of the 1 st and 2 nd centuries CE. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
- philosophical responses to religious beliefs, narratives, and practices, including mystery cults and/or divination
- characterizations and treatments of religious doubt, disbelief and/or atheism
- the ways in which ideas about religion(s) inform discussions about ethics, nature, causality, death, and/or the afterlife
- the ways in which discourses about political power, justice, and/or law are informed by religious ideas and concepts
- the representation of and engagement with the past (political, cultural, intellectual, etc.) in connection with religious ideas and/or practices

- the influence of modern philosophical ideas, popular trends, and/or cultural biases surrounding religion and metaphysics on scholarship exploring the aforementioned questions in the past fifty years

Please send abstracts that follow the SCS Guidelines for Authors of Abstracts to Zoe Stamatopoulou (Washington University in St. Louis) at by March 1, 2023. Abstracts should not include any self-identifying information. Abstract submissions will be subjected to double-blind review, and decisions will be communicated to prospective speakers by April 10, 2023, leaving sufficient time for those whose abstracts are not chosen to participate in the SCS’s individual abstract submission process.