Call for Participants

Symposium: Graeco-Roman Philanthropy and Christian Charity

DePauw University
Greencastle, IN 46135

March 17-18, 2007

Contact: Dr. Jinyu Liu, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies

Email: jliu AT

Ever since Paul Veyne’s seminal work Le pain et le cirque (1976), the nature of ancient euergetism (benefaction), which is widely attested in all kinds of ancient sources including inscriptions from the first three centuries CE, has been extensively explored. Scholars have reached consensuses that benefactions in the Graeco-Roman cities were not directed at the poorer segment of the society but at the citizen body at large and that the benefactors were not motivated by altruistic goals but by the desire of self-promotion. There has been a general tendency to emphasize the discontinuity between ancient euergetism and Christian charity. Recently, Susan Holman (2001) and Peter Brown (2002)’s works have lent further support to this differentiation by bringing into focus such topics as the development of Christian rhetoric concerning poverty, invention of “the poor” and their acquisition of cosmic significance in late antiquity.

Despite these superb contributions to a profound understanding of the rise of Christian charity, there are still many missing links in our understanding of the transition from ancient euergetism to Christian charity particularly on the micro-level. How, for example, did different ideas and practices meet, clash, or mutually influence each other in the transitional period of the fourth century CE? To what extent were the changes in the honorific languages and practices embedded in the change of beliefs or the structural change of the Roman society? How did socio-economic elements such as inflation, or the evolving “epigraphic habit” factor into the changing forms of benefactions and honorific practices in local contexts?

This symposium is intended to be a roundtable forum, which brings together the insights of ancient social historians, historians of Late Antiquity, epigraphists, philologists, Biblical scholars, philosophers, Medievalists, anthropologists, sociologists and scholars of philanthropic studies.

Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

· Forms of benefaction in the Ancient World
· The beneficiaries
· Motivations of public and private benefactions
· Honorific languages and practices
· Attitude(s) towards poverty and the poor
· Philanthropy and economy
· Artistic representations of philanthropic scenes

The event is free and open to all. Grants are available on a First Come, First Serve Basis to the participants to underwrite travel expenses, and lodging.

If you wish to present a paper, or to share your work in progress, or to volunteer as discussants/moderators at the symposium, please submit a brief abstract or statement of interest (Max. 300 words) with your affiliation and contact information before February 28, 2007 by mail or email to:

Jinyu Liu
303 East College

Department of Classical Studies
DePauw University
Greencastle, IN 46135

jliu AT

DePauw University ( ) is located in Greencastle, Indiana, c. fifty miles from Bloomington or Indianapolis.