Call For Papers: “Religion and the State in Classical Greece and Rome”

Call For Papers


Princeton University, September 22-23, 2017

The statue of Athena Promachos, “first in battle,” stands high on the Acropolis with gleaming spear, urging the Athenians to “victory without evil” (Eumenides). In Rome, home, by the early 3rd century BCE, to a temple for the goddess Victoria, the ritual declaration of war by the fetiales ensured that divine right was on the Roman side. Religion—a term whose applicability to the Greco-Roman world is the subject of ongoing debate—operated at every level of Classical state mechanisms and social control: from the sources of law, to the possible sacrosanctity of officials responsible for promulgating the law (basileus, emperor, ephor, tribune), to the hierarchies of individuals and groups.

Pervasive in different ways across Greek and Roman cultures, the entanglements of religion and the state raise questions that remain vitally relevant:

  • How do particular conceptions of the divine justify violence, the use of coercive power, and war?
  • How do they structure human relationship to the law?
  • How do they condition theories about social and communal hierarchies?
  • How do they help define outsiders and the behavior towards them?
  • What are their effects on constructions of gender and sexuality?
  • How do they interact with human interventions in ecology and the environment?
  • What is the role of the state in religious transformation and innovation?
  • How do personal, apocalyptic, and philosophical religions interact with state cult?
  • What are some of the modern implications of these conjunctions and divergences between Greco-Roman states and prevalent forms of religious observance?

We look forward to bringing together scholars at Princeton for in-depth discussions, over two days, of pre-circulated papers. Each paper will receive a 40-minute slot in our program and be paired with a respondent.

Amit Shilo (University of California, Santa Barbara):

Dan-el Padilla Peralta (Princeton University):

Anyone wishing to participate should submit a title and abstract of 300 words by May 17th, 2017 to