CONF: Encountering the Divine

Seen on the Classicists list:


University of Reading, 1st-3rd September 2011


Final Deadline: Friday August 19th 2011

How and why did mortal men and women relate to their gods – and their gods to them? Ancient men and women exhibited a strong desire to get close to their gods and forge relationships with them. Scholarship, however, has not always found it easy to take that desire for contact seriously: traditionally, we have privileged a functionalist approach to ancient worshippers and their rituals, focusing in particular on how religion offers men the opportunity to interact competitively and politically with other men. The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to conceptualise the relationships ancient men and women sought with their gods and the language that we use to describe them with greater sophistication. By placing the focus on the mortal-divine relationship itself, we foreground the points of direct contact to explore how the divine encounter itself negotiated and constructed the gods in the ancient imagination. We bring together 28 international speakers to navigate a divine topography spanning Greece and Rome, and ranging from Olympian deities through to deified emperors, in order to interrogate how and why ancient men and women interacted with their gods.

More information is available on our webpage (including downloadable booking forms, with accommodation details):

Alternatively, please contact Dr. Susanne Turner (susanne.turner AT or Alastair Harden (a.f.harden AT

Conference fee: £60/£30 reduced (includes lunches, refreshments and drinks reception). Day rates also available.

Thanks to the generous support of the Classical Association and Hellenic Society (SPHS), we will have limited bursaries available. Please contact Alastair Harden (a.f.harden AT for details on how to apply.



9.00 Coffee and Registration

9.30 Welcome

9.45 PANEL 1: LITERARY RELATIONS (Chair: Emma Aston)

9.45 KELLY SHANNON (Oxford) "Divinity, Flattery and Maiestas: Tacitus on the Deification of Augustus"

10.15 BOBBY XINYUE (UCL) "Deus Praesens: The Divinity of Augustus and Ludi Saeculares"

10.45 RICHARD FLETCHER (Ohio State) "Bona Cupido: Virgil’s deus and Apuleius’ daemon"

11.15 Discussion

11.45 PANEL 2: RELIGIOUS LANDSCAPES (Chair: Georgia Petridou)

11.45 PETRA SCHIERL (Basel) "Pastoral Encounters with the Divine"

12.15 MARIA PRETZLER (Swansea) "Aristides and Asclepius: How to Create Your Own Sacred Landscape"

12.45 Discussion

1.15 Lunch


2.00 NICOLETTE PAVLIDES (Edinburgh) "Interactions Between Mortals and Heroes in Classical Sparta"

2.30 DIANA BURTON (Victoria University of Wellington) "Worshipping Hades: Myth, Cult and


3.00 EMMA STAFFORD (Leeds) "Encountering Indignation: The Worshipper’s Experience of Nemesis"

3.30 Discussion

4.00 Coffee

4.30 PANEL 4: HYMN AND PRAYER (Chair: Ian Rutherford)

4.30 ALEXANDER HALL (Wisconsin-Madison) "Begin (or Rule) my song: Gods and Literature in the Homeric Hymns"

5.00 JACOB MACKEY (Stanford) "The Folk Theology of Roman Prayer: Pragmatics and Cognition"

5.30 ANNETTE TEFFETELLER (Concordia) "Calling the Gods: Performative and Descriptive Contexts of

Klesis and Praxis in Greece and Anatolia"

6.00 Discussion

6.30 Drinks


8.30 Coffee

9.00 PANEL 5: GODS ON POTS (Chair: Alastair Harden)

9.00 AMY SMITH (Reading) "Divine Reflexivity in the Oeuvre of the Pan Painter"

9.30 TYLER JO SMITH (Virginia) "Ex Cathedra: Divine Images and Ritual Messages on Greek Vases"

10.00 GEORG GERLEIGNER (Cambridge) "Addressing the Gods: The Evidence of Attic Vase Inscriptions"

10.30 Discussion

11.00 Coffee

11.30 PANEL 6: RELIGIOUS VISUALITY (Chair: Susanne Turner)

11.30 JULIA KINDT (Sydney) "The Sex Appeal of the Inorganic: Seeing, Touching, and Knowing the

Divine during the Second Sophisitic"

12.00 MELISSA HAYNES (Temple) "How to Make a God: Sculptors, Cult Statues and the Limitless

Possiblities of Phantasia"

12.30 GEORGIA PETRIDOU (Humboldt) "Sacred Sights and Healing Vision in Eleusis"

1.00 Discussion

1.30 Lunch

2.30 PANEL 7: ANIMALS AND THE SACRED (Chair: Jack Lennon)

2.30 EMMA ASTON (Reading) "Hybridism and Visualisation of the Divine in Classical Greece"

3.00 CLAUDIA GRECO (University of Cyprus) "’Immortal and Born from Immortals’: Men and Holy

Animals in Ancient Greek Literature"

3.30 DIANA RODRIGUEZ PEREZ (Universidad de León/Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) "The Snake

as a Mediator Between Gods and Men in Ancient Greece: The Cases of Asclepius and Zeus


4.00 Discussion

4.30 Coffee

5.00 PANEL 8: VOTIVE RELATIONS (Chair: Amy Smith)

5.00 EVA STEHLE (Maryland) "The Ninnion Plaque"

5.30 TRISTIAN HUSBY (City University, New York) "Non-Greeks Bearing Gifts: Non-Greek Votive

Offerings at Delphi in the Archaic Period"

6.00 SUSANNE TURNER (Reading) “Epiphanic Viewings: Sculpting the Gods and Their Worshippers on

Attic Votive Reliefs”

6.30 Discussion


8.30 Coffee

9.00 PANEL 9: BLOOD AND SACRIFICE (Chair: Annette Teffeteller)

9.00 JACK LENNON (Nottingham) "Bad Blood: Pollution as Communication in the Pax Deorum"

9.30 SARAH HITCH (Bristol) "Food for the Gods? Perceptions of a Greek Cultural Paradox"

10.00 Discussion

10.30 PANEL 10: DIVINE HONOURS (Chair: Bobby Xinyue)

10.30 ZSUZSANNA VARHELYI (Boston) "Encountering Divine Charisma: Gods, Men and Women in

Imperial Religion"

11.00 LYNETTE MITCHELL (Exeter) "Like Gods Among Men: Heroic Rulers in Archaic and Classical Greece"

11.30 IVANA PETROVIC (Durham) "Hellenistic Rulers and Divine Honours"

12.00 Discussion

12.30 Concluding Remarks

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