Religious modes of (de-)legitimizing violence in antiquity
University of Mainz (Germany), 5-7 September 2019
Abstract due on: 14 February 2019
"Religion" and "violence" and their possible interdependency occupy a central place in the contemporary discourse in humanities, in spite of (or because of) the fact that neither can be satisfactorily defined. Ever since antiquity a connection between religion (in the broadest sense) and violence has been acknowledged, constructed and welcomed or rejected in various epochs and genres. The conference will focus on strategies of (de-)legitimization of violence in antiquity. Possible topics might include the killing of Pentheus by the maenads, the persecution of Christians under Diocletian or the destruction of pagan temples in late antiquity, the sacrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis or violence in connection with the conflicts surrounding Donatists or Manicheans. We would like to maximize the scope of perspectives and case studies and to facilitate a fruitful exchange across the various disciplines. Papers may consider—but are in no way limited to—the following questions:
- To what extent are modern concepts of violence congruent with those of ancient authors? Which "religious" acts are explicitly regarded as violent, and where is this sort of categorization absent—contrary to modern expectations? Does connecting violence with religion a priori entail a problematization?
- What exactly is the role of specifically religious approaches to (de-)legitimizing violence compared to approaches based on politics, ethnicity or character?
- What are the differences between religiously motivated modes of speaking about violence in myth and those governing factual reports of violence? How do these two fields of discourse interact?
- How are ancient texts which mirror religiously (de-)legitimized violence negotiated and evaluated in secondary sources such as ancient scholia or exegetic works or even in modern scholarship?
- Are there forms of religiously (de-)legitimized violence that are privileged or marginalized in contemporary perception?