From Autothanasia to Suicide: Self-Killing in Classical Antiquity

From Autothanasia to Suicide: Self-Killing in Classical Antiquity

From Autothanasia to Suicide: Self-Killing in Classical Antiquity

From Autothanasia to Suicide: Self-Killing in Classical Antiquity

Synopsis

Using almost a thousand case studies, both real and fictional, Dr van Hooff provides us with a unique and engaging insight into self-killing in the Graeco-Roman world.The author analyses the methods and motives which lie behind self-killing relating them to ancient popular morality as it appears in the various media and traces the development of the concept of self-murder, as opposed to the original idea of autothanasia, which lies at the root of the Christian abhorrence of suicide.

Excerpt

This study about a sinister but ‘vital’ theme had its origin several years ago when I gave some lectures about the theme for branches of the Netherlands Classical Association (Nederlands Klassiek Verbond). It was much helped by a working-group I conducted at the University of Nijmegen consisting of advanced students in Ancient History in the autumn of 1983: Peter Beelen, Tim Dijkstra, Ad Franken, Steef Geurden, Fred Hendriks, Léon Hermse, Elena Janner, Burgie Koopman, Harry de Korte, Kiek Offermans and Marc van der Velde laid the foundations for the collection of cases and helped to develop the interpretations of the facts.

Several colleagues who heard of my ‘hobby’ told me about interesting cases and literature: in this respect I have to thank my colleagues in the Department of Classics in Nijmegen: A. Bastiaensen, L.de Blois, J.-J. Flinterman, A. Kessels, P. Leunissen and W.van Loon. P.van Minnen and H. S. Versnel in Leyden and E. Eyben (Leuven-Belgium) drew my attention to some interesting literature.

The Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Pure Research (Z. W. O.) contributed to this study by conferring a travel grant which enabled a stay at the Fondation Hardt in Vandoeuvres-Geneva during the spring of 1988.

My British colleague in Classics Teacher Training at Durham University, Richard Smith, undertook the painstaking task of removing Dutchisms and outright faults from my English. in June 1989 I enjoyed the hospitality of his home and the discussions we had then were very helpful in clarifying many ideas.

Finally, many thanks are due to Mariken van Groenestijn, dimidium animae vitaeque meae, who critically and conscientiously read the first Dutch draft and helped considerably to improve the work in style and thought.

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