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Between epic and tragic Ajax: suicide and heroic ethics in Nonnus of Panopolis' Dionysiaca

Séminaire / Centre TRANSLATIO, Recherche, TRANSLATIO

Le 17 novembre 2023

Saint-Martin-d'Hères - Domaine universitaire

Séance 5 du séminaire TRANSLATIO avec l'intervention de Halima Benchikh-Lehocine (ATER, UGA).

The variety in the genres that influenced Nonnus of Panopolis in his poems has been well noticed—and in some cases well-studied—by scholars. At the crossroads of many genres (epic, bucolic, didactic, elegiac poetry, epyllion and hymnology among others), the Panopolitan’s works also demonstrate the principle of poikilia¸ central to Nonnian aesthetics, through this blend of generic references. One of those genres has however received less attention: tragedy.

The presence of tragedy in the Dionysiaca is multiple and can be observed at several levels and in various ways. From lexical borrowing to the use of an emblematic character as an analogy for the characters of the diegesis (Euripides' Medea serves as a paradigmatic model of the infanticidal mother), via the repetition of motifs and type-scenes (messenger's account, premonitory dreams), references to plots of plays and even the adaptation of an entire one—Euripides' Bacchae—the tragic genre is in fact widely represented.

In order to provide some answers to the question of “how Nonnus' epics relate to, sidestep, avoid, uphold generic limits” between epic and tragedy, this paper proposes a case study on the character of Ajax. Even if he does not belong to the diegesis of the Dionysiaca—it is Aeacus, his grandfather, who takes part with his Myrmidons in the campaign against the Indians—Nonnus makes several direct or indirect references to him in the Indiad where he serves as a model / analogy for Indian characters who are about to commit suicide but who justify their suicide as the only way to preserve their honour as warriors. The Sophoclean Ajax is paradoxically mobilised in an epic context as a sort of argument of authority to give another meaning to the act of suicide so that it does not contravene heroic ethics.

Docteure en langue et littérature grecques de l'ENS de Lyon et actuellement ATER de lettres classiques à l'UGA, Halima Benchikh-Lehocine est spécialiste de poésie épique tardive, autrice d'une thèse intitulée « Le théomaque chez Nonnos de Panopolis » dans laquelle elle a étudié les figures d'opposants à la divinité présents dans le corpus hétéroclite d'un auteur du Ve siècle de notre ère. Ce travail de thèse est en cours de remaniement pour publication aux presses d'UGA Éditions qui en ont accepté le projet dans la collection « Lire l'Antiquité ». Elle s'intéresse tout particulièrement aux phénomènes d'intertextualité et aux logiques de réception dans la littérature antique.

Répondante : Laurence Vianès

Date

Le 17 novembre 2023
Complément date

12h00 - 14h00

Localisation

Saint-Martin-d'Hères - Domaine universitaire

Complément lieu

Maison des Langues et des Cultures
Salle des Conseils

Contact

malika.bastinatuniv-grenoble-alpes.fr (Malika Bastin)

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Publié le 23 novembre 2023

Mis à jour le 11 décembre 2023