CFP: The Role of Animals in Ancient Myth and Religion

The Role of Animals in Ancient Myth and Religion
Wednesday, June 5 through Friday, June 7, 2013

This conference will take place at the ancient Roman site of

Grumento Nova (ancient Grumentum), in the Region of Basilicata, Province of
Potenza.. There we will examine the role of animals in their various relationships with human beings and the gods.

In ancient Greek and Roman society, animals serve important

roles—as a medium between men and gods, as religious symbols, and as poetic symbols. Archaic Greek prophets could speak with lizards, snakes and
other animals, from which they learned the future and other secret
things. Prophetic animals were exceedingly important in everyday life
and even in political choices in ancient cities. The flights of birds
and the features of sheep- or bull-livers were crucial for social life
in Greece and Italy. Prophetic fishes were known in Sura (Lycia) and

in the temples of Atargatis (Syria). During the imperial times mantic séances were conceived in which a cock picked up corn seeds on an
alphabetic board in order to choose letters of prophetic words. The
eagle was a divine assistant of Zeus, which was able to raise man up
into the world of the gods, and in imperial times, it became a major,
independent god.

Animals also served as religious symbols, as in Mithraism,
Christianity, and Egyptian traditions. In poetry, we see even insects
representing complex civilization (Vergil’s bees), or souls (bees,

bats, flies, and butterflies) or even human beings (such as Dido’s view of the Trojans). Sometimes human beings are transformed into animals (as
in the tale of Circe, and in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, etc.).
Such tales, accounting for the origins of certain creatures from

human beings, thereby render explanations for the peculiarities and
properties of these creatures.
The Conference organizers are: Attilio Mastrocinque (Università

di Verona) (attilio.mastrocinque), Patricia A. Johnston
(Brandeis University) (johnston), Giovanni Casadio
(University of Salerno) (giovannicasadio), and Sophia
Papaioannou (University of Athens) (spapaioan).
Details regarding the cost of the venue (registration and room and
board) as well as information on transportation from Salerno to

Nova, will be provided to participants.

Abstracts for individual papers should not exceed 400 words and

may be submitted to Patricia Johnston (johnston Giovanni
Casadio (giovannicasadio) no later than March 1, 2013. All paper proposals will be peer-reviewed, and the decisions will be communicated by March 15, 2013.

Proposals for panel-sessions of three to five papers should not

exceed 600 words and may be submitted to Patricia Johnston or Giovanni Casadio. Panel session proposals will be peer reviewed as soon as

they are received, and proposers will receive notification within 30 days.