Lecture by David Konstan, Paris IAS fellow
It is commonly supposed that the interrelated notions of guilt, remorse, penitence, and forgiveness are specific to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Did the Greeks and Romans in the pre-Christian era have a concept of remorse? If not, when and how did it arise? The problem is complicated because there was no change in terminology; rather, old terms were invested with new meanings. In this talk, I argue that Christianity did indeed introduce new nuances in the classical terms, but that remorse as we know is not in fact Biblical but was a product of subsequent interpretation by the Church Fathers.