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CALL. 30.05.2018: The Body of the Combatant in the Classical World - Bristol (England)


This one-day interdisciplinary colloquium invites participants to explore the depiction of the human body as a weapon in Greco-Roman texts. Discussion will focus on the representation of the body of the combatant – the warrior as professional soldier, hero, opponent – in literature and art, as well as in the sphere of reception, from antiquity to modernity.



LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: The Old Council Chamber, Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol (Bristol, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Hannah-Marie Chidwick; The Institute for Greece, Rome and the Classical Tradition, University of Bristol.

INFO: web - hc6198 [at]


The socio-political centrality of warfare in ancient cultures (particularly Sparta, and the Roman Republic) made the act of wounding and being wounded fundamental skills for the human (male) body. Young boys were educated not simply to be men, but instruments of hostility; Roman politicians (in)famously displayed their battle scars in the Senate. This colloquium encourages participants to look beyond the politics and strategy in ancient texts which concern warfare, and to adopt a somatic focus on the individual experiences of battle.

Across historiography, poetry, tactical and religious texts, and artworks, similar questions arise concerning the perception and function of the soldierly corpus:

· What happens to the body during/after assault?

· How much autonomy is it granted, and to which body parts?

· To what extent is it rendered (in)vulnerable?

· How are these bodies conceived of by the soldier himself and non-combat personnel?

· What can language choices, imagery and context tell us about the Greco-Roman world’s most effective technology?

· To what extent does the corporeal experience of war undercut cultural, historical and scientific differences?

CALL FOR PAPERS: deadline 30th May 2018

Please email abstract proposals of up to 300 words to hc6198 [at] Suggested topics for discussion include, but are not limited to:

• body specifications and training

• theories of masculinity and femininity in relation to violence

• nationalising the body

• diversity in the ancient armed forces

• technologies of warfare & how the body is also a weapon

• philosophies of the body and its form

• pain and emotion

• the politics of violence and bodily treatment

• wounding and medicine on the battlefield

• parallels between Classical and modern warfare

• cultural and artistic receptions of the Classical combatant’s body, from antiquity to modernity

• differences between Greek/Roman texts

• differences between poetry/historiography/drama/art

Abstracts are particularly encouraged from researchers who work with the armed forces, or have been members of the armed forces themselves. Travel bursaries are available for postgraduate or low/un-waged participants.

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