Poeta Necans: The Metalepsis of Killing a Character from Antiquity to the Present

This paper traces expressions in which authors or narrators claim to or are said to kill a character, with the key question as to which ideas about storytelling the cases convey and how these ideas resemble or differ across different periods. Examples of the ‘poeta necans metalepsis’ are found from ancient Greek and Latin literature all the way through to the modern novel; however, they bear a remarkable variety of implications. I will discuss case studies from different eras, with emphasis on early usages in antiquity (including such diverse texts as the Homeric Scholia, Horace’s Satires, and Nonnus’ Dionysiaca). In this way, the paper will also shed light on the motif of death in literature, which, as I argue, is not a negation of life, but rather supports and defends it in various ways, both for the narrator, the audience, and the characters.

About the speaker: Thomas Kuhn-Treichel, PhD in Latin philology (Göttingen, 2016), habilitation in Classics (Heidelberg, 2020), is research assistant in Classics at the University of Heidelberg. He has published several monographs on Greek and Latin poetry (including Pindar, Gregory of Nazianzus, and late antique biblical epic) and has recently finished a book on specific types of metalepsis in diachronic perspective (Metaleptische Bilder des Erzählens. Von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, forthcoming 2023).

For more information and a bibliography, see www.uni-heidelberg.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/skph/personen/vertretung.html

Tea/coffee in the Common Room afterwards