But were they talking about the emotions: Affectus, affectio and the history of emotions

Yasmin Haskell, Raphaele Garrod, Michael Champion, Juanita Ruys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates how Latinate writers from the classical world to the early modern might have referenced the concept of 'emotion'. It focuses on the polyvalent terms 'affectus' and 'affectio', as these not only appear to have been heavily implicated in premodern discourses about emotional states and dispositions, but are also the cognates of modern terms, such as 'affect' and 'affection', that are undeniably emotions-centred. The study provides a preliminary survey of what the terms 'affectus' and 'affectio' could denote in terms of emotions, considers whether they were synonyms or signified discretely, and explores the expansion of their meaning when used in compounds with terms denoting the mind or body. It uncovers no teleology, but rather the likelihood that usage was modulated according to genre and authority. In conclusion it suggests points of departure for further research that will be able to nuance and complicate this important word history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-543
JournalRivista Storica Italiana
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


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