Representation of Knowledge and Knowledge Transfer in Ancient Lives of Poets (De viris illustribus: Nepos, Suetonius; Vitae Vergilianae)

Subproject by Prof. Dr. Melanie Möller

This subproject deals mainly with biographies of poets written in Augustan and post-classical times as well as with their forerunners. Next to studying the traditional strand of Latin biography and its increasing interest in private matters, a special focus is going to lie on the great number of Virgil biographies and the rich anecdotal material they contain. As for Virgil, the enquiry about the concepts of anecdotal knowledge will pursue two lines of investigation: not only does every reader necessarily draw his knowledge on Virgil from anecdotes that are supplied by his works, but Virgil himself is presented as a scientific authority by the anecdotes circulating about his person. In both his roles as portrayer and portrayed person he is supposed to be seen as a conveyer of knowledge. It is precisely this inductive approach used by ancient authors, namely to draw conclusions on life from art, that needs to be problematised before the project can devote itself to the analysis of the epistemic status of formations of knowledge contained in the biographical anecdotes on Virgil.