Unlike the other senses, touch ranges beyond a single sense organ, encompassing not only the skin but also the interior of the body. It mediates almost every aspect of interpersonal relations in antiquity, from the everyday to the erotic, just as it also provides a primary point of contact between the individual and the outside world. The essays in this volume explore the ways in which touch plays a defining role in science, art, philosophy, and medicine, and shapes our understanding of topics ranging from aesthetics and poetics to various religious and ritual practices. Whether we locate the sense of touch on the surface of the skin, within the body or - less tangibly still - within the emotions, the sensory impact of touching raises a broad range of interpretive and phenomenological questions.
This is the first volume of its kind to explore the sense of touch in antiquity, bringing a variety of disciplinary approaches to bear on the sense that is usually disregarded as the most base and obvious of the five. In these pages, by contrast, we find in touch a complex and fascinating indicator of the body's relation to object, environment, and self.
Alex Purves is Professor of Classics at the University of California Los Angeles, USA. She is the author of Space and Time in Ancient Greek Narrative (2010) and co-editor, with Shane Butler, of Synaesthesia and the Ancient Senses (2013), published in this "Senses in Antiquity" series. Her most recent book, Homer and the Poetics of Gesture, is forthcoming.
Introduction: What and Where is Touch? Alex Purves 1. Hands Know the Truth: Touch in Euryclea's Recognition of Odysseus Silvia Montiglio 2. Touching, Proximity, and the Aesthetics of Pain in Sophocles Nancy Worman 3. Aristotle and the Priority of Touch Rebecca Steiner Goldner 4. The Duality of Touch David Sedley 5. Getting to Grips with Classical Art: Rethinking the Haptics of Graeco-Roman Visual Culture Verity Platt and Michael Squire 6. In the Body of the Beholder: Herder's Aesthetics and Classical Sculpture Helen Slaney 7. The Contaminating Touch in the Roman World Jack Lennon 8. The Touch of Poetry in the Carmina Priapea Elizabeth Young 9. In Touch, In Love: Apuleius on the Aesthetic Impasse of a Platonic Psyche Giulia Sissa 10. Noli me tangere: the Theology of Touch Catherine Conybeare 11. Losing Touch: Impaired Sensation in Greek Medical Writings Rebecca Flemming