Vol. 21 (2023)

From the social and cultural construction of emotion to the emotional construction of society and culture

Angelos Chaniotis
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Published 2024-01-31


  • emotion,
  • slavery,
  • religion,
  • disgust,
  • elite


In ancient history, it is typically examined how society and culture ‘construct’ emotions, i.e., how they influence the way emotions are presented, displayed, controlled, and evaluated. Less attention has been paid to the way emotions are instrumentalized in order to consolidate political conditions, social values, norms, and ideals, to establish fictions, and to keep illusions alive. Examining a small selection of epigraphic, literary, and papyrological sources, this paper discusses how fictions in Greek politics (acceptance of hierarchical relations), society (slavery), culture (sexual behavior), and religion (divine power) had an emotional basis.