SENSORIVM: The Senses in Roman Polytheism


SENSORIVM: The Senses in Roman Polytheism explores how a range of cults and rituals were perceived and experienced by participants through one or more senses.

The present collection brings together papers from an international group of researchers all inspired by ‘the sensory turn’. Focusing on a wide range of ritual traditions from around the ancient Roman world, they explore the many ways in which smell and taste, sight and sound, separately and together, involved participants in religious performance. Music, incense, images and colors, contrasts of light and dark played as great a role as belief or observance in generating religious experience.

Together they contribute to an original understanding of the Roman sensory universe, and add an embodied perspective to the notion of Lived Ancient Religion.

Contributors are Martin Devecka; Visa Helenius; Yulia Ustinova; Attilio Mastrocinque; Maik Patzelt; Mark Bradley; Adeline Grand-Clément; Rocío Gordillo Hervás; Rebeca Rubio; Elena Muñiz Grijalvo; David Espinosa-Espinosa; A. César González-García, Marco V. García-Quintela; Jörg Rüpke; Rosa Sierra del Molino; Israel Campos Méndez; Valentino Gasparini; Nicole Belayche; Antón Alvar Nuño; Jaime Alvar Ezquerra; Clelia Martínez Maza.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Antón Alvar Nuño is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Málaga. His research is focused on Roman religion, with a special interest in Roman magic, on which he has published two monographs, Envidia y fascinación. El mal de ojo en el Occidente romano, Madrid, 2012, and Cadenas invisibles: Los usos de la magia entre los esclavos en el Imperio romano, Besançon, 2017.
Jaime Alvar Ezquerra is Professor of Ancient History at Carlos III University of Madrid. His research areas include the protohistory of the Iberian Peninsula (specially Tartessos), and Roman religion with a special interest in the cults of Mithras, the gens isiaca and Mater Magna, on which he has published Romanising Oriental Gods (Brill, 2008) and El culto a Mitra en Hispania (Madrid-Besançon, 2018).
Greg Woolf is Professor of Classics and Director of the Institute of Classical Studies in London, and is also Honorary Professor of Archaeology at University College London. During 2018 he held a Chair of Excellence at Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain. His latest book is The Life and Death of Ancient Cities: A Natural History, New York, 2020.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Editors
Notes on Contributors

Antón Alvar Nuño, Jaime Alvar Ezquerra, and Greg Woolf

1 Faces of Death: Lucretius, Religio, and Vision at Rome
Martin Devecka

2 Lucretius and the Body-Environment Approach
Visa Helenius

3 Hirpi Sorani and Modern Fire-Walkers: Rejoicing through Pain in Extreme Rituals
Yulia Ustinova

4 Empowered Tongues
Attilio Mastrocinque

5 Favete linguis and the Experience of the Divine: A Cognitively Grounded Approach to Sensory Perception in Roman Religion
Maik Patzelt

6 The Triumph of the Senses: Sensory Awareness and the Divine in Roman Public Celebrations
Mark Bradley

7 Sensorium, Sensescapes, Synaesthesia, Multisensoriality: A New Way of Approaching Religious Experience in Antiquity?
Adeline Grand-Clément

8 Day and Night in the Agones of the Roman Isthmian Games
Rocío Gordillo Hervás

9 Multisensory Experiences in Mithraic Initiation
Rebeca Rubio

10 Imperial Mysteries and Religious Experience
Elena Muñiz Grijalvo

11 Pro consensu et concordia civium: Sensoriality, Imperial Cult, and Social Control in Augustan Urban Orientations
David Espinosa-Espinosa, A. César González-García, and Marco V. García-Quintela

12 Finding Religion in Reported Sensorial Experiences: A Case Study of Propertius 4.6
Jörg Rüpke

13 Sensory Experiences in the Cybelic Cult: Sound Stimulation through Musical Instruments
Rosa Sierra del Molino and Israel Campos Méndez

14 Isis’ Footprints: The Petrosomatoglyphs as Spatial Indicators of Human-Divine Encounters
Valentino Gasparini

15 Assiduo sono and furiosa tibia in Ovid’s Fasti: Music and Religious Identity in Narratives of Processions in the Roman World
Nicole Belayche

16 Total Sensory Experience in Isiac Cults: Mimesis, Alterity, and Identity
Antón Alvar Nuño, Jaime Alvar Ezquerra, and Clelia Martínez Maza

Index of Literary Sources (Beatriz Pañeda Murcia)
Index of Epigraphic and Papyrological Sources (Beatriz Pañeda Murcia)
General Index (Beatriz Pañeda Murcia)
All interested in Roman Religion, Sensory Studies and the Study of the Senses in the Classical World.
  • Collapse
  • Expand