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JANUARY 2-5, 2025
Call for Papers for Panel Sponsored by the Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions
"The Gods are Watching: The Ocular and the Oracular in Ancient Mediterranean Religions."
Organized by Zsuzsanna Várhelyi, Boston University

Visuals at religious sites and imaginary ones practically everywhere were a key part of religious experience in the ancient world. But the gods themselves were also perceived as capable of sight and of sharing divine religious knowledge in visual formats, such as in dreams. How did these visual dynamics shape the experience of the divine, both in religious practices, but also in literary and visual representations?

For this panel, we invite papers on any topic related to ideas and practices of visuality in relation to the divine world. Topics might involve:

  • divine surveillance and omnivision,
  • oracular and divinatory processes involving visuals,
  • visual approaches to share divine knowledge,
  • ecphrasis in relation to the divine,
  • the spectacular in association with divine figures,
  • the importance of the gaze when encountering the divine,
  • visibility and invisibility as divine tools,
  • lines of sight including divine images or perspectives.

Please send abstracts for a 15-20 minute paper by March 22, 2024 to Zsuzsa Varhelyi (, preferably with the subject heading “abstract_SCS2025.” Abstracts should be 500 words or fewer (excluding bibliography) and should follow the guidelines for individual abstracts (see the SCS Guidelines for Authors of Abstracts). The abstracts will be judged anonymously and so should not reveal the author’s name, but the email should provide name, abstract title, and affiliation. Decisions will be communicated to the abstracts’ authors by the end of March, with enough time that those whose abstracts are not chosen can participate in the individual abstract submission process for the upcoming SCS meeting.