A Cultural History of the Emotions in Antiquity

A Cultural History of the Emotions in Antiquity, Volume 1

by Douglas Cairns

Douglas Cairns is Professor of Classics at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He has published widely on Greek lyric and tragedy, including Bacchylides: Five Epinician Odes (2010) and Aidôs: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature (1993). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2019
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-4742-0702-7 (online)

    978-1-4725-3580-1 (hardback)

    978-1-4725-1506-3 (set)

    978-1-3500-9165-8 (epdf)

    978-1-3500-9164-1 (epub)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
A Cultural History of the Emotions in Antiquity
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Emotions are everywhere in the ancient world: in everyday transactions, in interpersonal relationships, in religion and politics, in the objects that people use in their daily lives, and in the buildings and spaces they live in. Classical literature is rich in representations of emotion and the actions that emotions motivate, while Classical rhetoric and literary theory concentrate above all on the emotional effects that texts and performances have on readers and audiences. Greek and Roman historians weave complex narratives in which the emotions of author, narrator, historical characters, and audiences are intricately intertwined. The visual arts, music, and dance are theorized in terms of their emotional properties and effects. The West’s earliest philosophical and scientific approaches to emotion in ancient Greece and Rome engage what are still fundamental concerns. This volume surveys this vast field to demonstrate how emotion history is an indispensable aspect of the cultural history of the Greek and Roman worlds.