Rediscovering Consolation: Can Three Antique Cultures Help Us Reimagine Grief and Its Relief?

Black and white image of hand on window.
Fellow Project Academic Year

Francoise’s research (and next book project) explores the construction of grief and its relief in three ancient cultures — ancient Israel, Imperial Rome and Hellenistic Judaism — in comparison with contemporary Western societies. Today, alleviation of grief is usually considered an individual task, achieved within the self. Symptomatically, the term “consolation” has fallen out of favor in English. The three ancient cultures selected present widely different constructions of grief, but all regard it as a fundamentally interpersonal concern. In their own ways, they convey that human beings can and should soothe others’ pain. Methods combine philology, literature and history of emotions and of the self. Emotions are understood as cultural constructions, playing distinct social and political roles. 

Fellow Project Principal Investigator

Francoise Mirguet | Associate Professor, School of International Letters and Cultures