Prof. Dr. Jonas Grethlein - Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prizewinner 2024

Prof. Dr. Jonas Grethlein

Prof. Dr. Jonas Grethlein

© DFG / David Ausserhofer

Classical Philology, Heidelberg University

With his work on the narratology of ancient narrative forms, ancient aesthetics and the relationship between historical image and experience in ancient narrative and historiographical texts, Jonas Grethlein has significantly influenced the development not just of classical philology but also of literary, cultural and historical studies in general. It is for these achievements that he receives the Leibniz Prize 2024. The starting point and core of all work done by Grethlein, who is one of the world’s leading Greek scholars, is the in-depth interpretation of texts from almost all genres of ancient Greek literature. He often accesses the ancient texts in a completely new way by drawing on modern literary and cultural theoretical approaches. For example, Grethlein’s interpretation of Greek tragedies in his dissertation (2003) was based on the question of what role asylum in Athens played in the construction of cultural identity. His academic oeuvre already comprises a total of eleven monographs – the most recent being Ancient Greek Texts and Modern Narrative Theory. Towards a Critical Dialogue, published in May 2023. As is the case with all his publications, this monograph makes antiquity appear up-to-date and close to our own times because it engages in critical dialogue with the present.

Jonas Grethlein completed his doctorate in Latin philology, Greek philology and ancient history in Freiburg im Breisgau in 2002 and obtained his post-doctoral lecturing qualification at the same university in 2005. From 2003 to 2009 he was an Independent Junior Research Group leader under the DFG’s Emmy Noether Programme. From 2007 he was an assistant professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara before being appointed to the Chair of Greek Literature at the University of Heidelberg in 2008. Grethlein received the DFG’s Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize in 2006 and was awarded an ERC Starting Grant in 2013 on the topic of “Experience and Teleology in Ancient Narrative”. Calls from the University of St Andrews (Scotland, 2012) and Cambridge University (England, 2021) demonstrate how Grethlein’s academic reputation extends far beyond Germany; he has remained loyal to Heidelberg, however.


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