Nessun Dorma: Night Stories

Angelos Chaniotis, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, discusses the night, whose definition as the period between sunset and sunrise is consistent and unalterable, regardless of culture and time. However, the perception of the night and its economic, social, and cultural roles are subject to change. Which parameters determine these changes? What can we learn about the specific character of a culture by studying them? Why do people experience the night in different ways in different historical periods and how did this affect their lives? How do references to nocturnal activities in historical sources (works of art, narratives) reveal what the artists/authors wish to communicate to their audiences? Can the night be a meaningful subject of historical and archaeological enquiry? Chaniotis will explore these questions through a study of source material in the Greek world (ca. 400 B.C.–ca. A.D. 400), which shows a continuous effort to colonize the night with activities of the day, to make the night safer, more productive, rational, and efficient. He demonstrates that the main motors for this change were social developments and religion not technology, and poses the questions: Do we have nightlife because of technology? Or do we create technology in order to have nightlife?