Elisabeth Schedel


Proceedings opened: 30 June 2020

Dissertation colloquium: 09 October 2020


Biographical information

  • 2008 - 2015: Studies of Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek) and English at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and the Durham University (UK).
  • 2014: First State Examination in English at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.
  • 2015: First State Examinations in Classics (Latin and Ancient Greek) at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.
  • From 09/2016: Research Assistant and PhD Student at the Research Training Group 1808: Ambiguity – Production and Perception at the Eberhard Karls University Tübingen.
  • Since 2015: Member of the Tübingen Working Group "Narrative Dynamics in Latin Literature", Tübingen University.


Research interests

  • Silius Italicus
  • Ambiguity
  • Narratology
  • Epic Poetry



"Ambiguities of War. Studies in the Narrativity of Silius Italicus Punica." (working title)

This dissertation is concerned with Silius Italicus‘ Punica, the epic poem of the Flavian period that narrates the events of the Second Punic War in more than 12,000 verses and 17 books.

There are two distinct tendencies that can be distinguished in the research on the Punica of recent years: First, there are those scholars who favour an ‘optimistic’ reading of the Punica in line with Virgil’s Aeneis. In contrast, there are those interpreters who attribute to the poem a ‚pessimistic‘ message, thus relating it to Lucan’s bellum civile. This dissertation intends to show that both the optimistic and the pessimistic interpretations are accounted for by an intrinsic literary ambiguity which has not been examined in research yet.

The research question to be answered is as follows: By what means do the two contradictory, but equally coherent and plausible interpretations manage to successfully co-exist within one and the same text? In other words, the main purpose of this study is to determine which textual strategies trigger each of these two interpretations of the Punica. Such a research endeavour relies on an interdisciplinary combination of the theories of structuralistic narratology and modern models of the theories of cognition. The focus of the research falls on the possible-worlds theories, which originally have been developed in analytical philosophy and have then been transferred to literary studies. The aim is to show that there are alternative, possible storylines in the plot which stand in direct opposition to those events in the textual world presented as being ‘real’. This arrangement makes it impossible for the reader to decide which one of his interpretations is the final and ‘correct’ one.

One of the narrative strategies to account for the literary ambiguity based on possible worlds in the Punica is the innovative multiplicity of heroes, i.e. multiperspectivity. Moreover, literary ambiguity is constituted by the phenomenon of intertextuality with the mythological works of Homer and Virgil as well as by referentiality mainly with Livy’s historiographic ab urbe condita.



  • 2018
    • Reading and Translation Class, focusing on metrical reading: Virgil, Aeneis 7 & 8, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
  • Summer term 2016
    • Translation Class, focusing on metrical reading: Virgil, Aeneis 12, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen




  • Aspekte der Ambiguität in Silius Italicus‘ Punica. 15. July 2016, University of Tübingen.
  • Erzählter Krieg. Studien zu Silius Italicus‘ narrativer Technik. 27. October 2016, University of Tübingen.
  • ‚Entweder‘/‘Oder‘ – ‚Sowohl‘/‘Als auch‘? Silius Italicus‘ Punica als mehrdeutiger Text. 2. December 2016, University of Tübingen.


  • ‚Entweder‘/‘Oder‘ – ‚Sowohl‘/‘Als auch‘? Silius Italicus‘ Punica als mehrdeutiger Text. Tagung 38. Metageitnia. 21. January 2017, University of Bern (Switzerland).
  • Poster “Ambiguities of War. Studies in the Narrativity of Silius Italicus’ Punica”. 11. July 2017, University of Tübingen.
  • Wie die Muse nach Rom kam. Raumnarratologische Überlegungen zu Livius Andronicus‘ Musenfragment. Workshop „Towards a Digital Narratology of Space“, 15. December 2017, University of Tübingen.


  • Die Bedeutung textstrategischer Ambiguität für das narrative Schema der Spannung/suspense in Silius Italicus‘ Punica. Tagung 39. Metageitnia, 12. January 2018, University of Straßburg. 
  • Wiederholung und Closure. Narrative Ambiguitätserzeugung in Silius Italicus‘ Punica. GRK-Tage 2018, 24. February 2018, Kirchberg convent/Sulz am Neckar.
  • Ambiguous Combat. Narrative Structures at the End of Silius Italicus’ Battle of Ticinus. International Graduate and Early Career Workshop “Ambiguity in Antiquity”, 02. March 2018, University of Tübingen.
  • Poster "Informational Gaps on the Macro- and the Microlevel in Silius Italicus' Punica." 16.-17.11.2018, Workshop "Ambiguity as (Information) Gaps: Processes of Creation and Resolution", University of Tübingen.
  • "Hannibal ambiguus. A Narratological Approach to Hannibal’s Status as “True Hero” or “Feminized Loser” in Silius Italicus' Punica”, 08.12.2018, Tandem talk with Professor Alison Keith, University of Tübingen


Symposia and Workshops (organization)

  • International Graduate and Early Career Workshop “Ambiguity in Antiquity”. 02-03. March 2018, University of Tübingen, together with Sonja Borchers an Anna Schwetz



Bär, Silvio; Schedel, Elisabeth (2019). "Epic Fragments". In: Structures of Epic Poetry. Vol I Foundations. Eds. Reitz, Christiane; Simone Finkmann. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 317-355. (https://www.epische-bauformen.uni-rostock.de/ ).