Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values X


The Penn-Leiden Colloquia on Ancient Values were established as a biennial venue in which scholars could investigate the diverse aspects of Greek and Roman values. Each colloquium focuses on a single theme, which participants explore from various perspectives and disciplines. A collection of papers from the first colloquium, held at Leiden in 2000, was published in 2003 under the title ‘Andreia’— Manliness and Courage in Classical Antiquity. This was followed by Free Speech in Classical Antiquity, (2005), City, Countryside, and the Spatial Organization of Value in Classical Antiquity (2006), KAKOS: Badness and Anti-Values in Classical Antiquity (2008), Valuing Others in Classical Antiquity (2010), Aesthetic Value in Classical Antiquity (2012, all edd. Ralph Rosen and Ineke Sluiter), Valuing the Past in the Greco-Roman World (2014, edd. James Ker and Christoph Pieper), Valuing Landscapes in Classical Antiquity (edd. Jeremy McInerney and Ineke Sluiter), and Eris vs. Aemulatio: Competition in Classical Antiquity (in preparation, edd. Cynthia Damon and Christoph Pieper). All volumes have been published by Brill Publishers. 

The topic of the tenth colloquium, to be held at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, June 14-16, 2018, will be:


Valuing Night in Classical Antiquity

The night, at first sight a natural phenomenon, is more than simply a time of darkness. It marks a cultural space. Nocturnal darkness is associated with a wide range of features and activities – mysteries and incubation, military consultation and poetic creativity, conspiracy and inspiration, adultery and erotic desire, crime and the transgression of limits, invisibility and insight. And night acquires numerous attributes and metaphorical companions – dreams, death, darkness, fear, blindness, inspiration, anonymity. 

How does the natural phenomenon of night acquire sociocultural value within specific Greek or Roman contexts? Or, what are the values or powers ascribed to, or organized by, night or ‘the nocturnal’? What happens in the ancient world between dusk and dawn, and what cannot happen then? What terms or techniques were used for describing or defining it? How is night made present in ancient art or dramatic performances? What is the relation between night and day: are nocturnal activities considered to undermine or rather to support the activities of the day (e.g. by providing special access to truth, knowledge, insight, by allowing a glimpse into the cosmos, by making navigation and broader orientation possible)? To what extent are the values of the night specific to various fields, such as philosophy, astronomy, theology, religion, literature, visual culture? How is night connected to other cultural spheres or topics, whether by contrast or by comparison, and how does this affect conceptions of value?

We invite abstracts for papers (25 minutes) that address any general or specific instances, from Greece and/or Rome, in which night or the nocturnal are central to the construction of cultural value. We hope to bring together researchers in all areas of classical studies, including literature, philosophy, ancient sciences, linguistics, history, and visual and material culture, with a view to discovering points of intersection and difference between these areas of focus.

Selected papers will be considered for publication. Those interested in presenting a paper are requested to submit an abstract of c. 300 words with a select bibliography, as an email attachment, no later than Saturday, September 30th, 2017, to:

The organizers will probably not be able to recompense travel expenses. We hope, but cannot promise, to be able to offer some assistance for accommodation.

Contact (please copy both with email correspondence):

Prof. Antje Wessels

Email: (Classics Department, Leiden University, Johan Huizinga Building, Doelensteeg 16, 2311 VL Leiden, Netherlands)

Prof. James Ker

Email: (Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 201 Cohen Hall, Philadelphia PA 19104-6304, USA)