From an interdisciplinary perspective, this project focuses on comparing and analysing the development of irreligious positions and expressions of doubt in ancient Mediterranean religions, particularly in ancient Greece and Rome. The main aim is to investigate how individuals in the Greco-Roman context materialised sceptical positions towards religious practices and beliefs.

In recent years there has been an increase in the study of atheism and unbelief, especially in what is known as non-religion studies. Post-secular societies have shown that sceptical and unbelieving positions have mixed with new spiritual expressions, making the religious field of late modern societies extremely complex. These socio-religious dynamics have generated new ways of studying and approaching religious manifestations, which have not only changed the methodology of religious studies, but also generated new theoretical proposals for studying those positions that criticise religion. Recent sociological publications focusing on the study of non-religious positions have shown the need for new approaches that allow us to understand the enormous variability of positions that question religion. Both belligerent anti-religious expressions and indifference to religion have led to a decline in religious affiliation and attendance at places of worship, which must be analysed in the context of the religious (and non-religious) plurality that characterises contemporary societies. Interestingly, this premise has not only changed the way atheism and unbelief are studied today, but has also generated new approaches to the study of the critique of religion in historical societies. Recent publications on the history of atheism demonstrate that the complexity of unbelief highlighted by empirical studies in the sociology of religion must also be taken into account in historical studies of scepticism and religious doubt. It is precisely this intersection between contemporary post-secular societies and the historical approach to atheism and unbelief that structures this project.

Continuing some ideas developed in the dissertation »Unbelief in Self-World Relations. A Relational Approach to Atheistic Positions in Classical Athens«, this project seeks to analyse the manifestation of ancient unbelieving positions from a materialist and phenomenological perspective, understanding unbelieving expressions as the materialisation of specific worldviews that seek to establish normative relations with the world. To this end, it is proposed to analyse religion from the methodological framework of the »lived religion« approach recently applied in ancient history. According to this perspective, narratives, bodies and religious objects are the sources to be analysed in order to understand the materialisation of self-world relations. In the negotiation of these relations with the world, irreligious positions can be addressed. Therefore, this research focuses on the hermeneutic interpretation of literary and epigraphic sources in ancient Greek and Roman religiosities. From the previous study of atheistic positions in classical Athens, it is proposed to open the chronological framework by applying a similar approach in the Hellenistic schools and in the context of Roman religion.


Principal investigator


from 2023