Rivoli - Pequeno Auditório
On Sympathy, Or The (Ancient) History Of Nature

Chaired by 

Isabel Lewis


How did the Greeks define sympathy? Contrary to what might be expected, in the fourth and third centuries BC, the concept of sympathy did not imply a mere relationship between people, but rather an emotional relationship that was distributed throughout the cosmos and all things, human and non-human, uniting all natures.

Brooke Holmes, Professor of Classical Studies at Princeton University, in charge of the project, Liquid Antiquity, will explore concepts of sympathy and nature in Antiquity in order to discuss the need to resist the temptation to describe “the Ancients” as anti- or pre-modern. In a talk with the artist and performer, Isabel Lewis, whose occasions often refer to Antiquity, Holmes will explain how the emergence of the concept of sympathy reveals an increasing concern in Ancient Greek philosophy, natural science, and medicine with the relation between natures, leading to the concept of capital N-Nature. Nowadays, the term Nature is used to describe what we have already lost or will lose as a result of ecological catrastophe, but also a concept whose suspect or obsolescent politics require active destruction in the name of human and non-human flourishing. What can we learn from the “old” conception of the natural world? What are the problems with the origin stories of “classical” Antiquity and the difficulties they expose in the planetary “we”?

Simultaneous Interpretation