The texture of the gift

Religious touching in the Greco-Roman world


  • Jessica Hughes Open University



touch, Greece, Rome, healing, punishment, votives


What did ancient religion feel like? This article explores different elements of tactile experience in Greco-Roman sanctuaries, focusing on a group of 'confession stelai' from Roman Asia Minor. Themes explored include the transgressive touching of ancient sacred objects by mortals, and the punitive touching of mortal bodies by the Greco-Roman gods. 

Author Biography

Jessica Hughes, Open University

Jessica Hughes is a Lecturer in Classical Studies at The Open University. She works on material religion, classical reception studies and the cultural history of the Italian region of Campania. She has recently published the monograph Votive Body Parts in Greek and Roman Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and is currently researching material religion and cultural memory at the Catholic Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Pompeii.


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How to Cite

Hughes, J. (2018). The texture of the gift: Religious touching in the Greco-Roman world. Body and Religion, 2(1), 88–112.




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