Cupido dominandi: lust for power, power over lust

26 Nov 2013

Cupido dominandi: lust for power, power over lust

FIRST CALL FOR PAPERS: Cupido dominandi: lust for power, power over lust

Student and early-career researcher academic conference. University of Warsaw, 15th – 18th May 2014, Warsaw, Poland.

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to inform you that from 15th until 18th May, 2014 (Thursday till Sunday), the University of Warsaw (Poland) will host an international postgraduate and early career researcher conference “Cupido dominandi: lust for power, power over lust”, focused on links between sexuality and politics, as seen in Classical Antiquity. The languages of the conference are English and Polish.

Sexual desire is one of universal human drives and it plays a role in lives of almost all humans, not excluding those wielding social or political power. Being such a powerful drive, it influenced and continues to influence human behaviour. Unsurprisingly, rulers of the world often take a keen interest in channelling and controlling sexual drives of their subjects, noticing their subversive potential. However, people in positions of power are not immune to sexual desire: lust influences their decisions in unforeseen ways. The sexual act is now—even more than before—believed to be of profound symbolic importance, denoting power exchange and transfer. Its significance had already been noted in Classical Antiquity, when politicians, priests and philosophers pondered the explicit or implicit influence sexual desire exerted over societies. To investigate this kind of influence is the aim of our conference.

As a group of young scholars of Classics and Ancient History, we are particularly interested in papers exploring how various societies of Classical Antiquity conceptualised links between sexual acts and political power. We welcome papers utilising diverse disciplinary approaches (archaeology, history, literary criticism, art criticism and religion studies), innovative perspectives and novel comparisons. Some topics worth considering are, but not limited to, the following:

  • the sexual power behind the throne: sexual partners as political advisors (Hephaestion, Aspasia, Senenmut?)
  • desire as an important variable in ancient politics
  • ancient wars caused by lust (Helen of Troy …)
  • bastards and ancient paradigms of inheriting power
  • ancient conflicts between bastards and official heirs
  • connections between sexuality and political power in ancient religion and myth
  • with the mandate of gods: divine parentage as political capital
  • political theology, sexual theology: political consequences of coitus in myth
  • sexuality, power, sanctity: sexual performance of rulers in ritual, sacrifice and religion
  • sexual act as a tool of power transfer in myth and ritual
  • secular and religious control over sexual behaviour
  • intersections of power and sexuality in ancient art
  • “sexual norm” in antiquity?
  • celibacy and promiscuity: extremes of sexual behaviour and their sociopolitical control
  • promiscuity of rulers and its symbolic dimension

We accept papers discussing first proto-historical cultures of the Mediterranean, Ancient Near Eastern societies, Classical and Late Antiquity Mediterranean societies (including inhabitants of Greece, lands under Roman dominion, people of Egypt and North Africa, and societies of European Barbaricum). The chronological frame of the papers is set to encompass times from 4000 BCE to 700 CE, with possible exceptions admitted on a case-by-case basis. Those unsure whether their proposal will be of interest to the organisers should not hesitate to contact the Conference Committee ().

Application process

The Conference is specifically tailored for postgraduate students and early-career researchers, undergraduate students may be taken in on a case-by-case basis. Those wishing to participate in the Conference should fill out the participation form, to be downloaded from the Conference website ( Please include abstract proposals in the participation forms, in which there is space left to do so. Abstracts should be between 1500 and 2000 signs of length, spaces included. In the bibliography, please include 5 most important academic works (not authors or ancient texts) you quote or paraphrase in your abstract, with parenthetical referencing in the body of an abstract. Ancient authors should be referenced using the Oxford Classical Dictionary standard; these works should not be placed in the bibliography section.

Papers should be 15-20 minutes of length.

The Conference fee is 15€, to be paid by the end of April.

DEADLINE for application is 31st January 2014.

For inquiries please contact

Conference information

The Annual Student Conference in Classical Civilisation is a well-known yearly academic conference in Poland, organised by students and young researchers of Classics and Ancient History, of all major universities in Poland. The Conference has been hosted by all major academic communities in Poland: in 2014, it returns to the country’s capital, Warsaw.The main student body responsible for this year’s edition is the ClassicsStudentAssociation of the University of Warsaw. Traditionally, the Conference is co-organised by almost all major Polish university organisations staffed by students interested in study of Classics and Ancient History, hailing from Polish universities of
As such, the Conference always is a vibrant academic forum for the exchange of views and ideas about Classical Antiquity.

This year’s venue is Warsaw, the capital of Poland, a major international tourist destination, an important economic hub and the home of the most important Polish academic community. Also known as the “phoenix city”, Warsaw has survived many wars throughout its history and it was painstakingly rebuilt after the extensive damage it suffered in World War II. During 20th century, Warsaw has been occupied by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia: the city’s sizeable Jewish population has been exterminated during Nazi occupation. As a part of conference fee, the participants will be given a guided tour of the city and its tourist attractions.