Daytime seminar by Professor Greg Horsley on Attitudes to outsiders in Mediterranean antiquity

Wednesday May 3 2017 by Katherine

‘Welcome, Stranger? Attitudes to outsiders in Mediterranean antiquity’

Paper presentation by Professor Greg Horsley, Classics and Ancient History, University of New England, Armidale
10:30am, Friday 19 May 2017 | St Mark's: 15 Blackall Street, BARTON  ACT 2600

The notion of the stranger in historical, literary, mythic and other contexts is ubiquitous across cultures and periods; yet who qualifies as a stranger may manifest itself differently. After brief allusions to some instances in 19th and 20th century literature, the paper will focus on Graeco-Roman antiquity (sampling Homer, Greek tragedy, historians), and then the Bible.
In considering who counts as a stranger, some questions of etymology are pertinent: Latin hostis/hospes, the multi-valent Greek xenos, the nature of ancient asylia. Cultural expectations of reciprocity are fundamental: does xenia (‘guest-friendship’) trump being a xenos (foreigner)?
Hostility to the other finds particular expression (at times localised, at times orchestrated from the centre) in Roman attitudes towards those with diverse religious adherences, especially from the East. Sometimes former insiders who became outsiders seek to be accepted again.
Other topics to be canvassed may include: refugees in antiquity, racial and social/linguistic drivers of discrimination leading to being a stranger in one’s own country, and whether strangers/outsiders ever become fully insiders—strangers no more.

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