In ancient Greece and Rome, nighttime encompassed a distinctive array of cultural values that went far beyond the inversion of daytime. Night was a mythological figure, a locus of specialized knowledge, a socially significant semantic space in various literary genres, and a setting for unique experiences. These facets of night are explored here through fifteen case-studies, that range from Hesiod to imperial Roman painting and cultural history. The contributors took part in a conference on this theme at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018, where they pursued a common goal: to consider how nighttime was employed in the ascription of specific values—in determining what values a thing or a person might have, or lack, in a nocturnal context.
James Ker, Ph.D. (2002), University of California, Berkeley, is Associate Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published books and articles on Seneca and on Roman conceptions of time.
Antje Wessels, Dr. phil. (2001), University of Heidelberg, Habilitation (2011), Free University Berlin, is Full Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Leiden University. She has published books on aesthetic theory, history of scholarship and reception of antiquity.
Contributors are: Adrienne Atkins, Amelia Bensch-Schaus, Kim Beerden, Cynthia Damon, Radcliffe G. Edmonds III, Jennifer Ferriss-Hill, Albert Joosse, Barbara Kellum, Marie-Charlotte von Lehsten, Christoph Pieper, Isabella Reinhardt, Ralph M. Rosen, Jane Sancinito, Selina Weissmantel, Kathryn Wilson
Introduction: The Values of Nighttime in Classical Antiquity Antje Wessels and James Ker
Part 1 Who or What Is the Night?
1 Night as Measure, Mother, and Metaphor in the Hesiodic Cosmos Adrienne Atkins
2 First-Born of Night or Oozing from the Slime? Deviant Origins in Orphic Cosmogonies Radcliffe G. Edmonds III
Part 2 Nocturnal Knowledge: Medicine, Philosophy, Religion, Astronomy
3 Night as Diagnostic Marker in Hippocratic Medicine Ralph M. Rosen
4 Nights of Insight: Plato on the Philosophical Qualities of the Night Albert Joosse
5 Night’s Fictions: The Religious Institutions of Numa in Lucilius fr. 484–489 (Marx) Cynthia Damon
6 The Astronomer-Poet at Night: The Evolution of a Motif Kathryn Wilson
Part 3 Society and Gender: Men and Women at Work, by Night
7 A Night Attack in the Seven Against Thebes Isabella Reinhardt
8 Tragedy of Darkness: The Role of Night in Euripides’ Rhesus Marie-Charlotte von Lehsten
9 The Witching Hour: Wakeful Women at Work in Homer, Apollonius, and Theocritus Amelia Bensch-Schaus
10 Nox rei publicae? Catiline’s and Cicero’s Nocturnal Activities in the Catilinarians Christoph Pieper
11 Inn-Dependent: Spending the Night in a Hostel in the Roman World Jane Sancinito
Part 4 Experiencing by Night
12 Better Safe Than Sorry: Nocturnal Divinatory Signs from a First-Century BCE Roman Perspective Kim Beerden
13 Through the Eyes of the Night: Ecphrasis of Nocturnal Ambush Scenes in Roman Epic and Historiography Selina Weissmantel
14 Nocturnal Negotiations: Experiencing the Night Scenes from the Iliad at the House of Octavius Quartio, Pompeii II 2.2 Barbara Kellum
15 Persius’ Nocturnal Inspiration in the Light of Day Jennifer Ferriss-Hill
All interested in Greek and Roman literature, history, and intellectual culture, and specifically those curious about ancient time-concepts.