CFP: Emotion and persuasion in classical antiquity

Submission deadline: June 27, 2013

Conference date(s):
June 27, 2013 - June 28, 2013

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Royal Holloway University of London
London, United Kingdom

Topic areas


This colloquium addresses the variety of ways in which emotions are used in strategies of persuasion within and between societies, groups and individuals in the ancient world, considering different strata of society, and diverse media of communication.  Persuasion may be effected, for example, by narrative, explicit exhortation, or covert manipulation through the judicious use of certain words and phrases.  Emotional strategies can be aimed at superiors, inferiors or one’s equals; to strangers or friends; and attempted for personal gain or the public good. They can appear in oral communications designed to be heard briefly – i.e. forensic, deliberative, epideictic, hortatory or supplicatory oratory – their representations in literature, or in written communications that can be read again and again (philosophical treatises, other literary works, letters, inscriptions).

In recent years scholarship on emotive persuasion techniques has focused primarily on explicit exhortation to feel a small group of emotions (anger, hatred, envy, gratitude, pity) in Attic forensic oratory, rhetorical techniques as propounded by philosophers (Aristotle, pseudo-Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian), and theatrical techniques such as dress, gesture or vocal techniques. The last of these is outside the scope of this colloquium, and we aim to move discussion well beyond the former two.

We invite abstracts on any aspect of emotion(s) used to persuade, in any period of ancient Greece or Rome from the earliest written texts through to Late Antiquity. In literature this will include rhetorical treatises (mainly in their relation to other forms of literature), actual speeches (from Classical Athens through Rome to the ‘Second Sophistic’ and early Christian sermons), representations of actual or fictional speeches in other genres (epic, drama, historiography etc.), and other forms of literature whose purpose may be deemed partly to persuade (e.g. philosophical treatises, consolations, satires, epodes, Pauline letters).  In non-literary media it will include texts preserved in inscriptions or on papyri such as imperial rescripts from and petitions to emperors, private letters, and prayers or curses addressed to gods.  Supplementary questions, especially in non-literary media, will be to consider whether women’s voices differ from men’s (or from male representations of female voices), and to what extent the ‘common man’ (and woman) makes use, or not, of literary techniques developed by higher-status educated men.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to [email protected] and [email protected] by 23 December 2012

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)