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Tutorial MA/ ResMA: Tears in the Ancient and Early Modern World


Admission requirements

The course is open for (Res)MA students with an advanced level of Latin and a good understanding of classical Greek


Tutorial centred around the book ‘De lacrymis” by Petrus Petitus (Pierre Petit). This 17th century book about tears and crying was written in a time of great anatomical discoveries, yet it is based on the tradition of ancient medicine and literature. The book is interesting for its use of sources; the author cites extensively from philosphy (Aristotle), medicine (Hippocrates and Galen) and literature (a wide range of poets and writers). Topics will be: reading and translating scientific Latin, ancient and early modern theories about emotion and the reception of classical texts by Petitus.

Course objectives

The aims of the course are:

  • acquiring experience in reading scientific (Neo-)Latin

  • getting an insight in the way Petitus understands and uses classical sources

  • acquiring knowledge about the most important classical and early modern theories of emotion
    getting involved in a research project: making a modern edition, translation and commentary of Petitus’ text.


Mode of instruction

Tutorial (combination of group work and the supervised production of a paper)

Assessment method

Paper, presentation, overall participation (5.2.3) The paper (maximum 5000 words) on a topic of the student’s own choice to be agreed in consultation with the supervisor(s).


Blackboard will be used for announcements, access to study material and assignments, exchange of papers among students and communication between teachers and students.

Reading list

Fögen, T. (ed.) (2009), Tears and Crying in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
Lange, M.E. (1996) Telling tears in the English renaissance. Leiden•New York•Köln: E.J. Brill.
Lutz, T. (1999) Crying: The natural and cultural history of tears. New York: Norton & Company.
Page Bayne, S. (1981) Tears and weeping. An aspect of emotional climate reflected in seventeenth-century French literature. Tübingen:Gunter Narr Verlag-Paris: Editions Jean-Michel Place.
Petitus, Petrus (1661) De lacrymis libri tres. Paris: Claudius Cramoisy.
Schrijvers, P.H. (2004), ‘Sunt lacrimae rerum. Een bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van de tranen’ in: Schrijvers, P.H. (2004), Ik kan de muzen niet haten. Over poëtische geestdrift en stoïcijnse standvastigheid Groningen, 214-226 [previously published as valedictory lecture, Leiden 2001]
Vingerhoets, A.J.J.M. & Cornelius, R.R. (2001) Adult crying: A biopsychosocial approach. Hove, UK: Brunner-Routledge.

Photocopies of the relevant parts of the book by Petitus will be provided by the teachers. Schrijvers’ valedictory lecture (35 pp.) should be read in advance.The rest of the literature is to be used as an introduction to the subject and can be read during the tutorial; students have to do an additional search of literature for their course paper.


Register in Usis.

Contact information

Prof. Dr. H.F.J. Horstmanshoff, Email: