International Conferences on Pliny the Elder: Medicine, Magic, and Religion

deadline for submissions: 
March 31, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Centre for Classical Studies, University of Lisbon, Portugal

International Conferences on

Pliny the Elder: Medicine, Magic, and Religion


In 2023 the world will celebrate the bimillenary of the birth of Pliny the Elder, who is a widely known author but not studied as much as he deserves. Despite the general interest shown in Pliny and his Natural History, there is still much to explore in his work. Examples of important titles of Plinian scholarship include the monograph of Beagon (1992) and her commentary on Book 7 of the Natural History (2005); Doody’s monograph on the reception of Pliny’s Natural History (2010); the edited volume of Gibson and Morello (2011); and the edited volume of Traina and Vial-Logeay (2022).


In order to foster further investigation of Pliny and explore themes and issues that have not yet been fully investigated, the Centre for Classical Studies of the School of Arts and Humanities of the University of Lisbon, in collaboration with the Sapienza Università di Roma, is organising two international conferences on the theme ‘Pliny the Elder: Medicine, Magic, and Religion’ to be held during the autumn of 2023.


The main goal of these conferences is to study the books of Pliny’s Naturalis Historia that have particular significance in three areas that frequently intersect: medicine, magic, and religion. Researchers and scholars of Pliny and of these areas are invited to submit abstracts for papers to be delivered at these conferences. Speakers are encouraged to employ philological, historical, historico-religious, and anthropological approaches in their presentations, which may investigate any of the following (or other) topics:


Pliny and medicine

  • Pliny’s sources;
  • medical areas are covered;
  • the reception of Pliny in ancient, medieval and Renaissance medicine. 

 Pliny and magic

  • views of Pliny on magic;
  • practices;
  • (possible) relation to medicine and/or religion. 


Pliny and religion

  • superstitio and prodigia;
  • Pliny and ancient religion;
  • deities, rituals and religious practices.


Proposals for a 20-minute presentation should be sent to by 31 March 2023. Abstracts should have a maximum of 300 words and include a short biographical note with academic affiliation(s) and main publications (100 words).


Provisional places and dates for these conferences are Lisbon (19-20 October 2023) and Rome (9-10 November 2023). The organisers plan to host the presentation of papers on medicine in Lisbon and papers on magic and religion in Rome. These places and dates will be confirmed so that participants can make appropriate travel plans well in advance of the conferences.


The working languages for these conferences will be English and Italian.


Organising Committee

Gabriel Silva

Giorgio Ferri

Paolo Garofalo


Scientific Committee

Claudia Beltrão (U. Rio de Janeiro)

Fabrizio Bigotti (U. Würzburg, CSMBR [Centre for the Study of Medicine and the Body in the Renaissance])

Valérie Bonet (U. Aix-Marseille)

Jean-Christophe Courtil (U. Toulouse)

Gabriel Silva (U. Lisboa)

Jane Draycott (U. Glasgow)

Giorgio Ferri (Sapienza U. Roma)

Rodrigo Furtado (U. Lisboa)

Gian Luca Gregori (Sapienza U. Roma)

Paolo Garofalo (U. Lisboa)

Patricia Gaillard-Seux (U. Angers)

Ana Lóio (U. Lisboa)

Bernardo Mota (U. Lisboa)

Valérie Naas (U. Sorbonne)

Vivian Nutton (U. College London)

Maria Cristina Pimentel (U. Lisboa)

Celia Sánchez Natalías (U. Zaragoza)

Federico Santangelo (U. Newcastle)

Giusto Traina (U. Sorbonne)

Anne Vial-Logeay (U. Rouen)

Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (U. Cambridge)



Beagon, M. (1992), Roman Nature. The Thought of Pliny the Elder. Oxford.

Beagon, M. (2005), The Elder Pliny on the Human Animal: Natural History, Book 7. Oxford.

Doody, A. (2010), Pliny’s Encyclopedia: The Reception of the Natural History. Cambridge.

Gibson, R., Morello, R. (eds., 2011), Pliny the Elder: Themes and Contexts. Leiden/Boston.

Traina, G., Vial-Logeay, A. (eds., 2022), L’inventaire du monde de Pline l’Ancien. Des colonnes d’Hercule aux confins de l’Afrique et de l’Asie. Bordeaux.



This activity is funded by Portuguese national funds through FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., in the framework of the unit/project UIDB/00019/2020