Students, Followers and Disciples – Aemulatio and Imitatio of role models in the ancient Mediterranean


In cooperation with the Genth University

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This interdisciplinary conference approaches the well-known phenomenon of imitatio Christi from a new perspective, combining archaeology, art history, philology, ancient history, theology and cultural history. It focuses on 4 topics:

1) Is it possible to project the Christian discourse of imitatio Christi back to the pagan background? To what extent has our perception of pagan imitatio been influenced by Christian imitatio? How do exempla work within pagan and Christian contexts?

2) Is the martyr, by imitating the supreme example represented by the life of Christ, implicitly challenging his model? How is the martyrs’ experience set apart from their model?

3) What are possible points of contact or differences between imitatio Christi and imitatio in another monotheistic religion, such as Islam?

4) How do various literary and artistic techniques shape and negotiate concepts of aemulatio and imitatio, such as portraits which liken their subjects to a famous model, or the arrangement of objects in space?

Audio recordings

Christoph Markschies (Berlin): Martyrium als Imitation des leidenden Christus. Beobachtungen zum Polykarp-Martyrium

Rebecca Langlands (Exeter): Tasting the hero’s blood: imitatio and Roman exemplarity

Dietrich Boschung (Köln): Vorbild als Imitation. Zur Konstruktion einer frühchristlichen Ikonographie

Walter Ameling (Köln): From persecution to martyrdom. Erste Veränderungen in christlicher Vergangenheitsbetrachtung

Koen De Temmerman (Gent): Imitation and portraiture in the hagiography from the late antique Sinai

Marco Formisano (Gent): Imitatio und Aemulatio in den Acta Martyrum

Virginia Burrus (Syrakus): Take the ‘Life of Saint Helia’, for example: Hagiography, exemplarity, and gender

Anja Bettenworth (Köln): Literarisches Schaffen als imitatio Christi in der Augustinusvita des Possidius

Thomas Macho (Berlin): Christus als Vorbild: Von der imitatio Christi als Selbsttechnik zur imitatio eines Körperbilds.

Hanna Jacobs (Bonn): Imitatio der Heiligen als biographisches Erzählmodell in der Katharinenkapelle in San Clemente, Rom

Susanne Wittekind (Köln): Opera caritatis und Nachfolge Christi. Zur Rolle von Werken der Barmherzigkeit in bildlichen Heiligenviten