Conference: "Medical Understandings of Emotions in Antiquity"

Crete/Patras Ancient Emotions Conference II
Medical understandings of emotions in antiquity

University of Patras, December 8-10 2017

This conference seeks to explore emotions’ significant role in Greek and Roman medical writings. In the medical discourse of antiquity, doctors are usually portrayed as disembodied, rational agents of professional knowledge and, hence, emotionally detached; silencing or suppressing emotions, such as fear, hope or disgust, appears to be integral to an ancient doctor’s self-fashioning and defines the ‘clinical’ conditions under which medical treatment should be conducted, even in the face of a painful illness. Patients, on the other hand, experience a wide range of emotions: depending on the nature of the disease, these emotions appear either as secondary side-effects or, in cases where a psychosomatic condition is at play, as fundamental diagnostic criteria. Yet, scholarship has not paid much attention to emotions in medical literature. Α possible explanation is that modern discussions take the body to account for the totality of physical, cognitive, and affective experience. On this view, even the use of the term ‘emotion’, in the sense of an affective entity that can be construed as independent of the body, may be misleading or anachronistic when applied to ancient medical texts. Yet, a number of medical descriptions invite us to ask if ‘pathological’ affective conditions are the cause or the symptom of illness: is it possible to identify exegetical models in which diseases have psychogenic causes? And if so, on what criteria do medical writers pathologize emotions? A close look at specific illnesses (for instance, melancholia ([Hipp.] Aph. 6.23) suggests that, for all their emphasis on the body, even early medical writers allow that in some conditions emotions serve as agents themselves rather than as manifestations of an underlying pathological agent. Correlatively, one of the most interesting developments in later medicine (e.g. in the works of Rufus of Ephesus and Galen) is that emotions are increasingly identified as ‘causes’ of diseases, while at the same time affects seem to assume a predominant role in the course of therapy. A careful assessment of this increased role of emotions can contribute, among other things, to a better understanding of mental illness in antiquity, as the latter gradually develops from a purely bodily condition with psychological side-effects to a pathological entity that is predominantly defined by its affective, as well as mental, symptoms. 

On a different level, ancient literature and philosophy frequently identify emotional behaviour with madness. This is clearly manifested in the conceptual metaphors employed by ancient (and modern) speakers to disclose or describe emotional experience: anger and erotic love, for example, are typically qualified as diseases that plague the agent. Disease metaphors emphasize the uncontrollability of emotional experience and its destructive impact on the agent, thereby reflecting cultural modes of understanding emotions. We, therefore, wish to pin down the differences, if any, between instances where emotions are conceived of as diseases and instances in which emotions are literally ‘pathologized’ (e.g. in ancient ethics). Finally, certain emotions seem to be more open to pathological interpretation than others. This should explain, for instance, why ‘madness’ (consisting of emotional outbursts) is outlined more clearly in medical texts (and crops up more often as a medical metaphor in literary texts) than e.g. melancholia, whose symptomatic manifestation involves more ‘inward’ affects, such as fear and sadness.

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(Photo: "Empty Boardroom" by Reynermedia, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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Olivia Sutherland stars in MacMillan Films staging of Medea. James MacMillan (Image via Wikimedia under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 License).

In our third ‘Letters from CAMP’ blogpost, Prof. Emily Jusino discusses the trials and tribulations of picking a translation of an ancient drama for live performance.

“People expect Greek tragedy to sound a little stilted and awkward.” This is a paraphrase of a comment made to me recently by a director planning on staging the Medea. It was his defense of the translation he had chosen when I said that I disliked his choice. What made this translation appeal to him was precisely what made it seem terrible to me: the stiltedness and awkward English that comes across both as “translation-ese” and as a refusal to update any references in the text for a modern audience. But, of course, he could get the rights to use this translation for free.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 06/21/2018 - 3:23pm by Emily Jusino.
NZ

(Message sent to SCS by James McNamara)

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority is proposing to drop the scholarship exam in Latin (for final year pupils) in 2019. The exam offers students recognition and a monetary award for high achievement. It may be that this would be a precursor to dropping Latin in New Zealand schools altogether.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal in support of continuing the scholarship exam in Latin, it would be greatly appreciated if you could submit feedback to the review, which closes this Friday 22 June, NZ time.

Details of the scholarship review are here:

http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/about-us/publications/newsletters-and-circulars/assessment-matters/consultation-on-the-nz-scholarship-subject-list/

The feedback form and details of where to send it are here:

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Tue, 06/19/2018 - 8:14am by Erik Shell.

ἀγών agōn: struggle, contest, trial, conflict, challenge, strife

with a pre-conference seminar on Empedocles’ Poem on nature and an Empedocles-themed post-conference tour

Sicily Center for International Education
Syracuse, Sicily, 12-15 June , 2019

The cultural and intellectual legacy of Western Greece—the coastal areas of Southern Italy and Sicily settled by Hellenes in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE—is sometimes overlooked in academia.  Yet evidence suggests that poets, playwrights, philosophers, and other maverick intellectuals found fertile ground here for the growth of their ideas and the harvesting of their work.  The goal of the Fonte Aretusa organization is to revive the distinctive spirit of Western Greece by exploring it from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including art history, archaeology, classics, drama, epigraphy, history, philosophy and religion.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 06/18/2018 - 9:54am by Erik Shell.
Façade of the Celsus library, in Ephesus, near Selçuk, west Turkey. Benh Lieu Song (Image via Wikimedia under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 License).

SCS’s Executive Director reflects on the experiences, challenges, and future of independent scholarship in our ongoing series on the subject.

All of our Independent Scholar blogposts have drawn on personal experiences, and mine is also personal.  Your posts have certainly helped me think more deeply and creatively about how the national classical society can support independent scholarship. My response falls into two parts: a celebration of the scholarly work that independent scholars are all currently doing in different ways, and some constructive responses to the challenges that independent scholars face.  


Now to address some challenges:

1. Access to Scholarly Resources

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 06/14/2018 - 4:46pm by Helen Cullyer.

Plato's Alcibiades I

20-22 Sept. 2018, Cambridge (UK)
Abstract submission deadline: 15 July 2018

Although the Platonic dialogue Alcibiades I was highly regarded in late antiquity and occupied a prominent place within the Neoplatonist curriculum, the dialogue has suffered from relative neglect both within classical and philosophical scholarship ever since Schleiermacher denounced it as spurious at the beginning of the 19th century. This conference will be dedicated wholly to the Alcibiades I, bringing together scholars who have been central in rekindling recent interest in the dialogue while also welcoming contributions from new researchers on the dialogue, including early career researchers and graduate students. Questions that might be addressed include, but are not limited to, questions about self-hood and self-knowledge, the soul-body relationship, politics and political influence, love, the role of the divine within the dialogue, as well as questions about authenticity and the place of the Alcibiades I within – or outside of – the Platonic corpus.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Wed, 06/13/2018 - 2:08pm by Erik Shell.
Gravestone of a woman with her attendant (100 BCE). Getty Villa (Image via Wikimedia under a CC-BY-SA 3.0 License).

Hackathons, events where software developers gather together to create in community a usable piece of computer programming in a short frame of time, are common occurrences in tech circles. One hosted this past February by the College of the Holy Cross, however, was the first time I’d seen this type of group work applied to translating ancient manuscripts.

View full article. | Posted in on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 4:38pm by Liz Penland.
Death of Socrates

The Association of American Colleges & Universities and the American Association of University Professors have recently signed on to a statement condemning the multi-front attack on the Humanities and a Liberal Arts education. 

"The disciplines of the liberal arts—and the overall benefit of a liberal education--are exemplary in this regard, for they foster intellectual curiosity about questions that will never be definitively settled..."

You can read the full statement here: https://www.aacu.org/about/statements/2018/joint-statement-value-liberal...

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(Photo: "The Death of Socrates" by Jacques-Louis David, public domain)

View full article. | Posted in Classics in the News on Fri, 06/01/2018 - 10:50am by Erik Shell.
Trajan’s Column: detail of frieze reliefs (image via Flickr by MCAD under a CC BY 2.0)

In her monthly SCS column, Dr. Cate Bonesho provides a photo essay recounting her trip inside of Trajan's Column and underneath the oculus of the Pantheon during Pentecost. 

Living in Rome has its perks. In addition to the amazing food and constant museum visits, there are a couple opportunities that are impossible to pass up. This past week in Rome, I took part in two of these events and, in the process, was able to cross two items off of my bucket list: climbing Trajan’s Column and watching the rose petals drop from the oculus of the Pantheon on Pentecost.






















The Imperial Fora from the Viewing Platform of Trajan’s Column. Image by Catherine Bonesho, unpublished.

View full article. | Posted in on Fri, 06/01/2018 - 5:56am by Catherine Bonesho.

CALL FOR PAPERS

Migrants and Refugees In the Law: Historic Evolution, Current Situation and Unsolved Questions

Murcia, Spain. December 12-14, 2018

International Chair Innocent III calls on all interested researchers to submit papers related to the human mobility and the reception of refugees according to History of Law, Canon Law, Roman Law, Comparative Law, Philosophy, Theology, History, Sociology, Historiography and any other discipline related to the main theme, as stated in the following:

SESSIONS

December 12: session 1. THE MIGRATION IN THE ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL HISTORY. Historical approach to human mobility.

December 13: session 2. NATION, STATE, REVOLUTION. The situation of the migrants and the refugees from the origin of the modern State.

December 14: session 3. BETWEEN EMERGENCY AND ORDINARINESS: Proposals for the enhancement of a constant phenomenon in the contemporary age.

PROPOSALS

Title, academic affiliation, short CV and Abstract - 200 words - (EN, IT, ES, DE, FR), via mail: catedrainocencio@gmail.com

DEADLINE

September 15, 2018. The Scientific Committee will respond to the proposal before September 30, 2018.

PUBLICATION

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 05/31/2018 - 9:26am by Erik Shell.
Some of the blacksmith buildings for the video game 0 A.D (Image via Wikimedia under a CC BY-SA 3.0 by Wildfire Games).

A Day in the Life of A Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog, celebrating the working lives of classicists. In this month’s edition, we speak with Hamish Cameron, who is a digital humanist, game designer, and lecturer in Classical and Medieval Studies at Bates College.

I’m an ancient historian who specializes in the Roman Near East, ancient geography, and borderland theory. I am beginning to branch into the reception of the classical world in contemporary pop-culture, especially games and movies.

As well as an academic, I’m a practicing analog game designer. Most of my hobbies are related to games in some way, so I’m always learning about how different games work and how different people encounter them. The close relationship between game design and classroom pedagogy means that thinking about games also bleeds into the classroom. As a game designer, everything I encounter, view and experience, becomes fodder for a game, and in many ways, also becomes fodder for pedagogy.

Hamish Cameron

Prof. Cameron at work at his desk at Bates College. 

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 05/28/2018 - 6:05am by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.

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