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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Ulrich Eigler: CANCELLED

28th January 2009, 17:30, Room 20, Pemberton Building, Palace Green

This is the fourth lecture in the Being Human - Classical Perspectives Lecture Series.

The deaths of famous men tend to attract much interest. In classical literature too, villains tend to meet a deservedly gruesome end, whereas heroes die a noble death. Then there is a small group of people, who, despite some positive characteristics, have chosen the wrong path in life, but undergo a return to heroism by dying nobly.

One of them seems to be Catiline. Thus Sallust, in his treatise on the conspiracy of Catiline, represents him as an aristocrat, who, because of the moral depravity of the Roman republic, turns into a state-criminal with a depraved character. But while the text depicts Catiline extremely negatively throughout, it becomes ambiguous at the point when Catiline finally dies in battle and seems to return to the old values of the republic. In a comparative analysis, which draws on later figures who undergo a similar conversion, such as Darth Vader in Star Wars or Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, the lecture tries to unearth the cultural ideologies that underwrite the deaths of famous villains.

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