Carolyn Laferriere (Yale) The Harmonious Libations of Apollo
A corpus of Attic fifth-century vases depicts Apollo performing an impossible task: the god plays on the kithara with his left hand while he pours a libation with his right. I argue that these vase-paintings evoke musical and liquid sonorities through the coincidence of two otherwise mutually exclusive actions, stimulating multiple senses at once, so that the images cause their viewers to experience Apollo’s presence as complex physical sensations.
Previous scholarship focuses on the vase-paintings as evidence for kithara performance techniques (Maas and Snyder, 1989; Mathieson, 1999), or associates these scenes with actual ritual practices (Bundrick, 2005), so that the synchronicity of Apollo’s actions has been overlooked. Approaching his performance through discussions of sense- perception and synaesthesia (Porter, 2010) and theories of sound and listening (Kane, 2014; Voegelin, 2010), I examine four vases (London, BM E80, E323, and E383; and Richmond, 82.204) in order to show that these paintings of Apollo’s performance visually present the god’s melody to the viewer. Invoking both senses of the word spondē, either a libation or a metrical foot consisting of two long syllables, I demonstrate that the two-part libation, where liquid falls from the oinochoe into the phiale, then onto the ground, coordinates with each long syllable of the metrical foot. Within the soundscape created in the scene by Apollo’s music and the sounds of falling liquid, the images act as visualized hymns celebrating Apollo, so that each time the viewer encounters the scene and generates within his phantasia, or imagination, the music of the kithara or the drips and splashes of falling liquid (Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1356a1; De Anima, 428a6-8; Konstan, 2006), he feels Apollo’s presence as multi-sensory stimulation. The viewer sees and hears the god’s melody, comes into harmony with the god of music, and is elevated, for a brief moment, to the divine.
Tomasz Dziurdzik (Warsaw) Music or Noise: Understanding the Role of Sound in Religious Ceremonies of Roman Imperial Army
During the course of religious ceremonies of the Roman Imperial army several musical instruments as diverse as flutes, bells and even pipe organs were used, as attested by both iconography and archaeological finds from the venues of the rites. Those instruments were used solely during the rites, therefore representing a category completely different from the signalling equipment of the army. Many aspects of their use remain a conundrum, since the available sources are rather fragmentary in character and so far have not been considered in relation to one another.
The aim of this paper is to reconstruct the place of musical instruments and sound in the course of Roman military ceremonies. It will be argued that various categories of instruments had separate meanings and served diverse purposes. Some were employed just for the making of loud noise, meant to scare away evil spirits that could interfere with the proper course of sacrifices, while other were used to create a musical background for the prayers, hymns and parades. Moreover, the paper will discuss the role of musicians in the ceremonies. Different instruments seem to have been played by groups of people with very dissimilar social status, some apparently being present at a military ceremony only because of their artistic skills. Last but not least, several remarks must be made on the role of music in the experience of those witnessing the rites. Perhaps it served to add elements of a show to the ceremonies, to liven up some of the few occasions for entertainment in a garrison’s dull daily, military life.
Matteo Olivieri (Milano) The Aural Environment of the Festivals of Apollo at Delos: Songs, Language, and Cultural Identity for Intra-Hellenic Concord
Greek religious festivals were multi-sensory social practices involving the whole of the human senses beyond the visual cues of place and action. The festivals at the sanctuary of Apollo of Delos were distinguished by a rich aural environment of ritual performances including song and music and of linguistic affluence. The Delia included musical contests of rhapsodic recitation and dancing, paeans and music accompanied the processions sent by the city-states, choruses sang of gods and men. Other local Delian cults also relied on hymns, dance and music.
Who then were the performers and the public of such musical and lyric rituals? Delos was considered the ethnic sanctuary of Ionian Greeks, but literary and archaeological data rather reconstruct the profile of a regional Cycladic sanctuary, in fact an ethnically permeable religious hub for the Aegean. The cultic community at Delos should be understood in its diversity of dialects and cultures since the archaic age, when the Delian maidens were praised for imitating the tongues of all men and their clattering speech (h.Hom. h.Ap. 162f.).
What perception did these participants have of the aural environment of Delian festivals? The songs addressed the centrality of Delian Apollinean cult, but the paeans of the city-state’s theoriai added unique expressions of self-identification; and, beyond words, the linguistic, stylistic, and musical features of the performances did evoke diverse cultural messages in their own.
From the perspective of auditive sensory experience, the Delian festivals are a statement of pan-Hellenism, not so much in purporting a common Hellenic ethnic identity, but rather expressing the communion and communication among the multiple intra-Hellenic ethnic and cultural identities of the Greeks who shared into the cult of Delian Apollo.
Isobel Pinder (Southhampton) Through Wall’s chink: The relationship between Roman city walls, religious movement and the articulation of urban space
Built to impress as much as to protect, Roman city walls were a potent assertion of urban identity, projecting a deliberate statement of power and status. They embodied community- specific decisions driven by practicality, ritual and ideology as part of the ordered and meaningful use of public space. Their role in memorialising and expressing social and cultural identity through religious practice has, however, hitherto been insufficiently recognised. This paper explores the way in which the positioning of city walls influenced ritual processions and sacred ways so as to perpetuate social memory and create a shared understanding of urban space.
The tradition of marking out sacred topography through processions is documented at Rome in the festival of the Amburbium, which probably took as its route a “circumambulation” of the city boundary. Careful analysis of the relationship between city walls and the urban street network in other Roman cities, especially where that network deviates from an otherwise regular grid plan, reveals the interplay between movement and city walls in Roman cities. Processional routes often moved between the city and the countryside, through gateways which did not form part of the sacred boundary. The placement of gateways at points where a processional way had to cross the boundary as manifested in a city wall was a key determinant of movement in Roman cities and framed the transition between urban and rural space.
Using case studies of the city walls at Fanum Fortunae and Hispellum in central Italy, I show how Roman cities may have appropriated pre-Roman processional routes and incorporated their memory into the living architecture of the colonial city. In conclusion, the importance of city walls in furthering our understanding of how Roman cities were experienced and traversed is emphasised.
Alexandre Vincent (Poitiers) Addressing the gods, involving the people: Sound of the ludi seaculares
The ludi saeculares, displayed by Augustus, Claudius, Domitian and Septimus Severus will be the subject of my presentation. Well documented by a wide array of sources (both literature, inscriptions and coins), those games were thought vital for the life of the City. For Augustus, they were supposed to open a new era. According to the sources, they implied lots of movements, both in their preparation (movement of the people on the campus Martius) and their realization (processions). Some of them were including a musical environment : citizens were summoned to the distribution of the suffimenta, four days before the beginning of the games, by the sound of trumpets. A few days later the Carmen saeculare was sung by the youth of the City both on the Palatine hill and the Capitol. During the movement between the two hills, the plebs was addressed by music.
The goal of my paper will be to question those sounds and try to decipher how they could be part of the accomplishment of this specific religious experience. Was there specific sounds for the religious event ? Whom the sounds were played for ? What impressions could they produced on the audience ? I’ll try to show, on the base of the musical instruments implied, that some sounds where made for the Gods, whereas others were produced for the citizens. As for those, I’ll show that the relationship between movement and sound is crucial for the interpretation : the musicians in movement where supposed to create an acoustic, civic and religious community.
Anna Trostnikova (RHUL) What did the Saecular games smell like? Sensory experience of incense burning rituals in 17 BC
What it felt like to be at the Saecular games? What impact had the rituals, the shows, the pro- cessions and the sacrifices on the spectators and participants? How did the Secular hymn sound? How did a purification ritual smell? How did the 110 kneeling matrons praising Juno looked like? To answer these questions means to approach the sensory experience of a spectator at a major Roman festival.
In summer 17 BC Augustus revived the Saecular games, a religious festival celebrated once in a saeculum and traditionally dedicated to the gods of the underworld. Although recurrent, it was one in a a lifetime opportunity for the Romans and visitors to attend it. The Augustan edition was unique in many aspects: new rituals originated from revised Sibylline books, newly built temples and theatres, new laws which regulated the distribution of seats at the shows, new values praised in hymns and prayers. Contemporary researchers acknowledge the exceptional quality of evidence left from the games, which include the detailed inscription, commemorative coins, and the text of the hymn.
Sensory experience of a religious event depends on a variety of factors, both scheduled and un- predicted, natural and social, known and novel. The participants’ perception of the ritual is framed by the official ideology, as well as their social role and personal attitude towards and involvement in the religion. The collective nature of a ritual alter the individual behaviour and create a new shared experience through the community involved. It equally produces the memories and determines the expectations of the generations to come. Quite unexpectedly, the perception of the sensorium in the society also shapes the individual’s experience. Although the information about the world is received largely through vision, the experience of a ritual is equally determined by other senses, such as touch, smell and hearing.
I will apply the described approach to recreate the sensory experience of the participants in the opening purification ritual of the Saecular games. Following the methodology of the archeology of the senses [Hamilakis, 2013], I will start from the inscription and coins, and will develop a narrative describing and analysing the main parts of the incense burning ritual. How did the Games smell like? Let us sense it together.
David Clancy (Exeter) “His ashes steam with Assyrian spice”: the Roman funeral as an olfactory experience
In April of 1485, workmen searching for marble and other stones along the Via Appia made an altogether more remarkable discovery: the tomb of a young Roman girl, whom witnesses quickly (and fallaciously) identified as Tullia, daughter of Cicero. The discovery was doubly remarkable, however, for upon lifting the lid of her sarcophagus, the workmen were greeted by ”a strong odour of turpentine and myrrh,” while others detected frankincense, aloe, and oil of cedar.
This paper explores the extent to which Roman funerary ritual was a markedly olfactory experience, and the significance of oderous materials such as those that accompanied ”Tullia” to these rituals’ purpose and function. Roman élites frequently showed great concern – and spent considerable sums of money – to ensure that rich and exotic fragrances accompanied their loved ones to the afterlife. Funerary odours such as these are typically described as an attempt to combat the foul and polluting smells produced by the decomposing corpse. Piecing together an olfactory history of Roman funerary ritual, this paper instead seeks to emphasise the centrality of smell to the demarcation of funerary space, the ritual expression of grief or mourning, and its role in mediating understanding of the status of living and deceased participants. It does so not only by focusing on the phenomenology of smell, but by examining funerary odours within Rome’s broader religious olfactory contexts.
Jessica Dolye & Maeve McHugh (UCD) “To the dank halls of Hades”: Sensory manipulation at the Nekromanteion of Acheron
The role of sensory stimulation and manipulation in ritual and religious practice is widely attested as a key element in the induction of heightened awareness, which allows for a more intense and vivid experience. In cults of an oracular nature, the susceptibility to an ecstatic state is of particular importance, as in such contexts the supplicant must believe that they are actually in contact with a divine or supernatural entity. The successful and sustained cultivation of this perception is crucial to the very functionality of oracular cult. In this paper, we will explore the evidence for sensory manipulation and choreographed movement at the purported Nekromanteion at Epirus in northwestern Greece, at which supplicants sought consultation with the shades of the dead. For reasons of topographical details, this controversial site is believed by some scholars to be that of Odysseus’ katabasis to the Underworld (or Nekyia) in Odyssey Book 10. Chief among proponents of this identification is the site’s excavator, Sotirios Dakaris. Dakaris’ suggested reconstruction of the cult activity at the site envisaged an incubation on the part of the supplicant, during which he was required to partake of a carefully-controlled diet, which included broad beans- found in copious quantities at the site, and known for their toxicity and hallucinogenic properties when consumed in their green state. Of particular interest also is what appears to be a truncated labyrinth, traversed immediately prior to entering the subterranean oracular chamber. We will explore the likely sense of disorientation resulting from the supplicant’s movement, probably in darkness, through this feature and the rest of the site, bringing to bear an array of evidence towards a detailed conception of the phenomenological aspect of this cult, re-evaluating Dakaris’ reconstruction and contextualising our investigation within the framework of sensory experience in Greek cult and oracular epiphany.
Ralph Anderson (St. Andrews) Music, Movement and Mania: the Corybantic ritual as a cure for madness
This paper focuses on the use of music and movement – specifically the collective movements of dance – in the Corybantic ritual, a ritual cure for madness that is fleetingly attested in both Plato and Aristophanes. While Aristophanes merely mentions the Corybantic ritual in a list of failed cures for Philocleon’s jury-mania in Wasps, Plato incorporates it into one of his discussions of the effects of music on the soul (Laws 790c-791c). Plato suggests that, just as a mother rocks her baby to sleep, so the music in the ritual imposes an external movement on the soul of the victim of madness, overcoming the internal movement of fear and frenzy, and restoring the sufferer to normal consciousness.
In focusing on the impact of music on the individual soul, Plato neglects what this paper argues are the fundamentally social dynamics of the ritual. This paper argues that the ritual constitutes a complex interaction between the sufferer and those who perform the rites that, by process of a non-verbal negotiation between them, links the sufferer’s affliction to a specific external source and thus gives it defined and manageable form. Not one but many tunes are played during the ritual, each belonging to a divine power that is potentially responsible for the sufferer’s condition. When the correct tune is played, the sufferer is unable to resist dancing to it, joining the ritual practitioners, who are already dancing around him. This reveals the source of the affliction. While the soul-stirring power of music is essential to this process, it is the social negotiation between the ritual specialists and sufferer, effected through the medium of music and dance, that brings about the cure. The Corybantic ritual thus represents a concise illustration of the power of movement in religious settings to reorientate individuals towards one another and to build and rebuild fractured communities.
Emma-Jayne Graham (OU) Feet of clay: movement, mobility and religious identity in the sanctuaries of ancient Italy
The sanctuaries of Hellenistic central Italy were filled with gifts offered to the divine in expectation of, or in gratitude for acts of divine healing. Amongst them were large quantities of terracotta models of feet and legs, as well as more rare examples of the lower torso, connected perhaps with petitions concerning foot injuries, walking difficulties, congenital conditions, even lower body paralysis. Other readings of these offerings associate them with pilgrimage and the material testament to both the journey and subsequent presence of the worshipper at a sacred site, or with a celebration of movement through the stages of the life-course or society. Together these objects point towards both real and metaphorical movement as a fundamental framework for experiences of votive cult.
As recent scholarship in the field of religious studies has demonstrated, religion is produced by kinaesthetic experience, or ‘the patterns of feelings and sensations bound up with performances, objects, and spaces’ (Morgan, 2010, p. xiv). This existing work on movement, the senses and religious identity, both past and present, is predicated largely on the model of a perfectly mobile body, but the votives left at ancient sanctuaries attest to the presence of considerable numbers of bodies with mobility impairments. This paper examines how non-normative movement equated with mobility disability could impact upon kinaesthetic sensory experiences of ancient sanctuaries and understandings of divine healing. It argues that a range of different types of movement, and ideas about movement, contributed to the creation of distinctive forms of religious knowledge concerning the nature of sacred places and religious performance, helping to define the identity of particular religious communities.
Eleanor Betts (OU) Multisensory Mapping of Rome’s Religious Landscape
This paper explores the way that multisensory approaches may provide new ways of mapping the religious landscape of ancient Rome. The cityscape was replete with public temples and shrines; on its hills, in its valleys and at crossroads. Each was a discrete locale of cult activity and a mnemonic for Rome’s myth-history. What can a multisensory approach add to our knowledge and understanding of these locales, and the way that they were related to one another in the topography of the city? Who used them, when and how? To what extent did they act as nodes of interaction, as barriers to movement across (accustomed) routes through the city, or as markers for wayfinding in the city?
The aim of this paper is to present methodologies which can help us address these questions and move closer to gleaning some answers. Using detailed multisensory analyses of specific temples, festivals and the wider religious landscape of the city, its focus is on both discrete locales and the role of those locales in the cityscape. The objective of examining examples of both the micro and macro environments of Rome’s religious landscape (part of its ritual topography) is to explore the connections between them at a multisensory level which incorporates the lived experience of each of the five senses, and makes a tentative step towards recapturing the sixth sense – which is all important if we are to see the pervasiveness and tenacity of Roman religion as something more than political manipulation.