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The social and cultural construction of emotions: The Greek paradigm

Final Report Summary - EMOTIONS (The social and cultural construction of emotions: The Greek paradigm)

The main achievement of the project is to have contributed to a better understanding of how emotions have shaped the source material of the Ancient Historian and the Classicist. The study of texts and images has shown how words and images function as acoustic and visual signals that attract attention, arouse emotion, stimulate memory, and ultimately influence reasoning and decision making. Emotions have emerged as a significant persuasion strategy in all kinds of texts (oratory, petitions, histories, inscriptions of religious content etc.). The research has demonstrated the increased importance of emotional display in public life in certain historical periods (especially ca. 300 BCE-ca. 220C CE). Through the study of techniques of emotional arousal the project has contributed to a better understanding of how the feeling of community is constructed – community based on the realization that an individual joins a group precisely on the basis of an emotion. The project has significantly expanded the source material studied in connection with the historical research of emotions. For the first time in Classical scholarship and Ancient History, a very diverse source material (inscriptions, papyri, literary texts, technical treatises, images) has been adduced for the study of emotions and analysed on the basis of a homogeneous set of questions. By studying the techniques of emotional arousal used by various agents, the project has demonstrated that historical sources (especially historiography, inscriptions, and papyri) are not only filtered and selective records of the past but complex media through which empathy and emotional community is established. The collection, translation, and brief presentation of selected sources from the Greek world in a searchable database facilitates the use of material and paradigms from Greek antiquity by both Classicists and researchers of emotions in other disciplines (history, linguistics, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, religious studies, literary studies), thus enhancing the comparative, cross-disciplinary study of emotions.