Travel, Travelers and Traveling in Late Antique Literary Culture

Organizer: Cam Grey, University of Pennsylvania, Sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity

The 2015 panel sponsored by the Society for Late Antiquity at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association on January 8-11 2015 in New Orleans will explore aspects of travel and traveling in late antique literary culture. Narratives of travel can be found structuring devotional pilgrimage accounts and ethnographic treatises, and they constitute a crucial element in hagiographical texts, where the saint’s physical journey often functions as a metaphor and analog for his or her spiritual journey. These narratives are also enlisted for political and military purposes, such as the anonymously authored fourth-century Itinerarium Alexandri or accounts of travel contained in historiographical works. Meanwhile, the phenomenon of the imperial adventus acquired an unprecedented level of ceremony and ritual in the period, and envoys and ambassadors traveled extensively both within and beyond the boundaries of the empire, treating with domestic and foreign potentates. Aristocratic and ecclesiastical letter writers penned—and preserved in their collections—letters of recommendation for an extraordinary variety of individuals, who appear to have walked or rode the roads of the Roman with little regard for the apparent deterioration in safety and security that haunts a work like Rutilius Namatianus’ De Reditu Suo.

The result is a rich body of material for exploring questions about the role of travel as a structuring device for authors to employ, a metaphor for them to access, or even a motivation for them to claim as a reason for writing. We invite the submission of abstracts offering consideration of these and other questions about travel, traveling, and travelers in late antique literary culture. One-page abstracts (ca. 400 words) for papers requiring a maximum of 20 minutes to deliver should be sent no later than March 21, 2014, by email attachment to Cam Grey at Please follow the APA’s instructions for the format of abstracts: All submissions will be judged anonymously by two referees. Those whose papers are accepted must be members of the APA by March 1, 2014 and must attend the 2015 meeting in New Orleans. The Society for Late Antiquity cannot provide funding for travel.

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