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Research Centre for Religious Studies Research Centres CRASIS

Ancient World Seminar: Mario Baumann (Dresden University): ‘Follow Your Nose: The Representation of Smells in Ancient Greek Literature.’

When:Tu 19-03-2024 16:15 - 17:30
Where:Faculty of Religion, Culture, and Society (Oude Boteringestraat 38), Court Room


Smell occupies a kind of middle position among our senses: on the one hand, smell perception can occur over some distance and is therefore different from the “close-up senses” of taste and touch; on the other hand, smelling requires a more direct contact with the object of perception than the senses of seeing and hearing. In a similar vein, the close connection of the sense of smell with memory and emotions goes hand in hand with the notorious difficulty of putting olfactory impressions into words. My talk shows how ancient Greek literature took up these ambivalent properties of the sense of smell in order to achieve strong and often surprising effects on its audience. At the same time, my presentation invites the listeners to a journey through text spaces and worlds of scent, which will take us from Athens to “Happy Arabia” and the Islands of the Blest.