“Dissent and Democracy: Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Religion in the Athens of Socrates”
Speaker: Richard Janko, Whitehead Professor, ASCSA; Gerald F. Else Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies, University of Michigan
The Derveni papyrus, found near Thessaloniki in 1962, provides extraordinary new evidence for the Hellenic enlightenment of the later 5th century B.C. The papyrus analyzes the Orphic scripture that was used in the mysteries of Dionysus in terms of pre-Socratic physics. As is clear from Aristophanes’ Clouds, this would have seemed utter blasphemy to ordinary Athenians. The prevalence of such thinking among the intelligentsia helps explain the charges of impiety brought against Anaxagoras and Socrates, as well as the superstitious hysteria about the Mysteries in 415 B.C., when the ‘atheist’ Diagoras was sentenced to death. Lastly, the pantheistic monotheism in the papyrus may illuminate the religious beliefs of Socrates and his followers.
This event will be Livestreamed. Please click here.
It can also be viewed in our lecture archive approximately one week after the event. Please click here for our video lecture archive.