Pia Campeggiani

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Philosophy
Research Fellow, University of Bologna

Research project

The Passionate Insight: Moral Emotions in Ancient Greece


This project deals with the emotions of pity and sympathy in ancient Greece. It is chronologically and geographically centred on classical Athens, using sources from earlier periods to better situate the subject matter in its historical development. It aims to shed light on the conceptual and phenomenological features of these emotions and to illuminate the connection between pity and other-understanding. To this end attention will be paid to the way phantasia and imaginative processes prompted by narrative and art were understood and explained in ancient Greek ethics and poetics.


The main purpose of this project is to further current understanding of the capacity of emotions to stimulate ethical responses both in the experience of art and in real-life situations. The project focuses on three main issues: (i) those aspects of ancient aesthetics which deal with the emotional and imaginative engagement prompted by works of art; (ii) the linguistic and semantic formation of concepts of emotion in ancient Greek art and narrative and what this tells us about the phenomenology of emotions, their embodied nature and their role as cultural categories; and (iii) the affective discourse originating from events and relations where emotional understanding, fellow-feeling and justice are in play. The pity of audiences (Greek eleos) is crucial in ancient aesthetics and is also a central feature of many emotional exchanges in ancient Greek poetry, especially where justice is at stake. Hence, narratives and theories of eleos will serve as a revealing illustration of the way moral emotions were felt, understood and represented in ancient Greek culture.


The project is based on the assumption that aesthetic categories such as mimēsis and the emotions inspired by art can open new perspectives on the moral subject of pity and its relation with fellow-feeling and justice, especially re the ancient Greek world, where aesthetics and ethics would not be thought of separately. The project (i) provides a rigorous investigation of ancient philosophical and literary accounts of aesthetic emotions, esp. pity; (ii) explores the conceptual and emotional connections between sympathy, pity and fellow-feeling in ancient Greek culture by means of a comparative and interdisciplinary approach, combining a historical and philosophical approach with cognitive science research methods; and (iii) gives contemporary discussions on the relations between aesthetics and ethics a fresh perspective via the revitalization of relevant ancient views.





Pia Campeggiani is Research Fellow in Moral Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies, University of Bologna. She holds a Ph.D in Philosophy of Law from the University of Pisa.

Her work centers on the philosophy of emotions, with a special focus on the role of emotions in ancient Greek ethics and poetics. She is particularly interested in exploring the relevance of ancient views for contemporary accounts.



Selected publications


'Emotion Theory in Ancient Greece and Rome', with D. Konstan, in A. Scarantino (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory. [forthcoming]


'Other Selves in Fiction: Philia, Eleos and the Ethics of Narrative', Maia, vol. 69, no. 1, 2017, pp. 23-46.


'Emotions’, with D. Konstan, Oxford Bibliographies in Classics [online], January 2017, doi: 10.1093/OBO/9780195389661-0239, last modified 11 January 2017.


'Iguales en las necesidades: intuiciones aristotélicas sobre el sentimiento de indignación',  Ágora. Papeles de filosofía, vol. 33, n. 2, 2014, pp. 185-197.


Le ragioni dell’ira. Potere e riconoscimento nell’antica Grecia, Carocci, Roma, 2013.




senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Comparative Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
discipline History