Society for Classical Studies, Toronto, January 5-8, 2017

Roman Religion and Augustan Poetry

 For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, research on Roman religion excluded any serious consideration of Latin poetry. Scholarly consensus located ‘real’ Roman religion in practices, rather than in myths or beliefs, and in traditions that supposedly antedated Greek and other non-Italic influences. Consequently, scholars either mined particular texts for nuggets of ‘factual’ information about specific festivals and practices (Ovid’s Fasti in particular) or they simply dismissed it as something extraneous to ‘real’ Roman religion.

In recent decades this simple either-or approach has been challenged from two directions. On the one hand, literary analysis of these texts has shown that we cannot take the works of such complex and sophisticated writers as simple ‘evidence’ for actual practices. On the other hand, scholars who advocate for a more inclusive and complex notion of what constituted Roman religion have argued that the reflections in these texts about human interactions with the divine are as much as part of Roman religion as the rituals that they describe.

The Society of Ancient Mediterranean Religions invites scholars and students of Latin poetry and Roman religion to submit abstracts that address one aspect of the varied interrelations between religion and Augustan poetry. Such aspects might include (but are not limited to):

  • poetry as exegesis of or commentary on particular religious practices
  • poetry as a vehicle for reflections on proper relations between the divine and human spheres
  • poetry as an expression of the religious worldview of the author

We also welcome papers on the role of ancient grammarians and other Late Antique commentators in shaping modern scholarship on religion in Augustan poetry, as well as new approaches to their use as sources for religion in the early Empire.

Abstracts should be submitted by email attachment as .doc or .docx files to and should be from 500-600 words in length for a paper to last between 15 to 20 minutes. Abstracts should contain a title and a word count, but should not have any information regarding the identity of the submitter. For further information about abstract format, please see the SCS Program Guide. The deadline for submission of abstracts is Tuesday, March 1, 2016, and all abstracts for papers will be reviewed anonymously.   For further information, please contact Nancy Evans, Department of Classics, Wheaton College, Norton, MA 02766 (