Numbers and Numeracy in Classical Greece

Leiden University
2-3 September 2016

Keynote Speaker: Serafina Cuomo (Birkbeck)

Presenters include:
Josine Blok (Utrecht), Kai Brodersen (Erfurt), Stephen Johnstone (Arizona), Lisa Kallet (Oxford), Athena Kirk (Cornell), Robin Osborne (Cambridge), Catherine Rubincam (Toronto), Richard Seaford (Exeter) and Valeria Sergueenkova (Cincinnati)

Conference Organisers:
Tazuko van Berkel (Leiden) and Robert Sing (Cambridge)

Do numbers ever speak for themselves?

Numbers, quantification, and calculation are ubiquitous in the historical record of Classical Greece and exhibit a range of ideological and communicative meanings.

This conference will bring together the growing number of scholars working on numbers in contexts of mass communication - both real (inscriptions, oratory, drama) and imagined (e.g. speeches in historiographical contexts), and those working on ancient numeracy. Our aim will be to explore the ideological meanings and communicative functions of numbers in classical Greece, and democratic Athens in particular.

Join us as we explore these key themes:

  • What communicative situation and communicative relationship does the use of numbers presuppose?

  • What is the relationship between the presentation of numbers (whether as quantification or calculation) and their communicative function? Is the communication purely 'utilitarian' or are other values such as accountability, transparency, expertise, or objectivity being communicated?

  • What is the relationship between the mass communication of numbers and numerical calculation in daily life (e.g. economic exchange, political organisation)?

With support from: