The Smells and Senses of Antiquity in the Modern Imagination

Edited by Adeline Grand-Clément and Charlotte Ribeyrol

Publisher’s presentation :

This volume tackles the role of smell, under-explored in relation to the other senses, in the modern rejection, reappraisal and idealisation of antiquity. Among the senses olfaction in particular has often been overlooked in classical reception studies due to its evanescent nature, which makes this sense difficult to apprehend in its past instantiations. And yet, the smells associated with a given figure or social group convey a rich imagery which in turn connotes specific values: perfumes, scents and foul odours both reflect and mould the ways in which a society thinks or acts. Smells also help to distinguish between male and female, citizens and strangers, and play an important role during rituals.

The Smells and Senses of Antiquity in the Modern Imagination focuses on the representation of ancient smells – both enticing and repugnant – in the visual and performative arts from the late 18th century up to the 21st century. The individual contributions explore painting, sculpture, literature and film, but also theatrical performance, museum exhibitions, advertising, television series, historical reenactment and graphic novels, which have all played a part in reshaping modern audiences’ perceptions and experiences of the antique.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Fragrant and the Foul: What did Antiquity Smell Like?
Adeline Grand-Clément, University of Toulouse 2 and the Institut Universitaire de France, France and Charlotte Ribeyrol, Sorbonne University and the Institut Universitaire de France, France

I What Smell is the Sacred? The Sensoriality of Antique Rituals
Chapter 1. ‘ “Unguent from a Carven Jar”: Odour and Perfume in Arthur Machen’s The Hill of
Dreams (1907)’
Catherine Maxwell, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Chapter 2. ‘Incense and Perfumes for Isis. Sensorial Reconstruction of the Pompeian Ritual of Isis in the Visual Arts’
Anna Guédon, University of Toulouse 2, France

II Gendered Smells and Bodies
Chapter 3. ‘From Gorgons to Goop: Scent Therapy and the Smell of Transformation in Antiquity and the Holistic Health Movement’
Margaret Day Elsner, University of the South in Sewanee, USA

Chapter 4. ‘The smell of marble: Warmth and Sensuality of the Twenty-first Century Classical Bodies’
Fabien Bièvre-Perrin, University Lumière-Lyon, France and Tiphaine Annabelle Besnard, University of Aix-Marseille, France

III Sensing Otherness from Canvas to Screen
Chapter 5. ‘Sensing the Past: Sensory Stimuli in Nineteenth-Century Depictions of Roman Baths’
Giacomo Savani, University of Leicester, UK

Chapter 6. ‘Evoking Empathy: Smell in the 21st Century Reception of Antiquity’
Kim Berdeen, Leiden University, The Netherlands

IV Recreating the Fragrance(s) of the Past
Chapter 7. ‘Archiving the Intangible: Preserving Smells, Historic Perfumes and Other Ways of Approaching the Scented Past’
Cecilia Bembibre, Institute for Sustainable Heritage at University College London, UK

Chapter 8. ‘The “Persistence” of an Ancient Perfume: the Rose of Paestum’
Giulia Corrente, University of Rome, Italy

Chapter 9. ‘The Fragrance of Ancient Kyphi: An Experimental Workshop’
Amandine Declercq, University of Toulouse 2, France

V Re-enacting the Fragrance(s) of the Past
Chapter 10. ‘“Balsama et crocum per gradus theatri fluere iussit” (Vita Hadr. 19,5)-The Contemporary Reception of Smells and Senses in the Roman Theatre’
Raffaella Viccei, Catholic University of Milan, Italy

Chapter 11. ‘Incense on the grass. A “strongly perfumed” Libation bearers (1999)’
Martina Treu, IULM University of Milan, Italy

Chapter 12. ‘Untarnished Experiences? – Re-enactors and Their Appraisal of Smell as Gateway into the Ancient World’
Martin Lindner, University of Göttingen, Germany

Envoi. ‘“Scratch and Sniff”: Recovering and Rediscovering Roman Aroma’
Mark Bradley, University of Nottingham, UK

Citer ce billet
Erika Wicky (2022, 11 février). The Smells and Senses of Antiquity in the Modern Imagination. Cultures olfactives. Consulté le 19 juin 2024, à l’adresse

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