Technologies of the Marvellous in Ancient Greek Religion

Tomb of Haterii
Tomb of Haterii

This talk will offer an overview of my forthcoming monograph Technologies of the Marvellous in Ancient Greek Religion. The book examines the ways that technological, and especially mechanical, strategies were integrated into ancient Greek religion. It aims both to expand the existing vocabulary of visual modes of ancient epiphany, and to contribute to the cultural history of the unique category of ancient ‘enchantment’ technologies by challenging the academic orthodoxy regarding the incompatibility of religion and science.

Part I introduces the technological ‘mode’ of epiphany through a reassessment of the well-known deus ex machina of Athenian tragedy. In Part II, I turn to thinking about individual religious experiences and how technologies were woven into these moments in both civic and personal ways. Part III centres around the potential for technologies to contribute to ancient conversations on disbelief rather than belief. Lucian’s Alexander and Icaromenippus are used as springboards to discuss the extent to which technologies become embroiled with fraudulent attempts to ‘create’ the divine raising questions about the authenticity of the mechanical miracle, and the threat posed by technical knowledge.

Date & time

Wed 10 May 2023, 3.15–4.15pm


AD Hope Conference Room 1.28


Dr Tatiana Bur, ANU


Dr Estelle Strazdins


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