Smell and the Ancient Senses

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Mark Bradley
Routledge, Dec 17, 2014 - History - 210 pages
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From flowers and perfumes to urban sanitation and personal hygiene, smell—a sense that is simultaneously sublime and animalistic—has played a pivotal role in western culture and thought. Greek and Roman writers and thinkers lost no opportunity to connect the smells that bombarded their senses to the social, political and cultural status of the individuals and environments that they encountered: godly incense and burning sacrifices, seductive scents, aromatic cuisines, stinking bodies, pungent farmyards and festering back-streets.

The cultural study of smell has largely focused on pollution, transgression and propriety, but the olfactory sense came into play in a wide range of domains and activities: ancient medicine and philosophy, religion, botany and natural history, erotic literature, urban planning, dining, satire and comedy—where odours, aromas, scents and stenches were rich and versatile components of the ancient sensorium. The first comprehensive introduction to the role of smell in the history, literature and society of classical antiquity, Smell and the Ancient Senses explores and probes the ways that the olfactory sense can contribute to our perceptions of ancient life, behaviour, identity and morality.

 

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Contents

smell and the ancient senses
1
1 Smell as sign and cure in ancient medicine
17
2 Ancient philosophers on the sense of smell
30
3 Divine scents and presence
46
4 Smelling trees flowers and herbs in the ancient world
60
5 Making scents of poetry
74
the archaeological evidence
90
7 Urban smells and Roman noses
110
8 The scent of Roman dining
120
9 Foul bodies in ancient Rome
133
10 Fragrance in the rabbinic world
146
11 Smell and Christianity
158
12 Missing noses
171
Bibliography
181
Index
200
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About the author (2014)

Mark Bradley is Associate Professor of Ancient History at the University of Nottingham, UK.

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