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Ancient World Seminar: Felix Budelmann (Groningen University), “Belief and make-believe: the deus ex machina of Greek tragedy as staged epiphany”

When:Tu 16-11-2021 16:15 - 17:30
Where:Harmony building, room 1315.0036

Abstract

Literary scholars discussing the deus ex machina who appears at the end of so many Euripidean tragedies foreground issues such as closure, meta-theatre, artificiality, irony, aetiology and authority, but have less to say about religion. This is understandable in so far as the deus ex machina is indeed a highly literary creation. Nevertheless, it has an obvious, albeit difficult, religious dimension, and this religious dimension is my topic in this paper. Essentially, I want to argue that deus ex machina scenes pull systematically in two directions: the religious experience they enable is one in which there is room simultaneously for both belief and disbelief, trust and distrust, commitment and distance. I also hope to situate this ambivalent phenomenon in current debates over the notion of belief in ancient Greek religion.

About the speaker

Felix Budelmann arrived in Groningen this academic year. Previously, he taught in Great Britain: at Manchester, the Open University, and then Oxford. He works mostly on Greek literature, especially lyric and drama, and has an interest in the cognitive humanities.