The title of the workshop isn’t merely a wordplay concerning Lakoff and Johnson’s influential book “Metaphors we live by”. It also concerns modi of choice; the results of the processes of decision making as well as the intricate links regarding metaphorical or non-metaphorical ways we choose (by) in ancient and medieval texts.
Metaphors are chosen. Literary texts, ancient or modern still reflect the outcome of such choices, but choice in itself may also be presented via metaphors. In the frame of literary theory, this workshop would like to investigate ancient and medieval texts and their literary methods (μέθ-ὁδος) such as metaphors, personifications and other ways.
For example, a plentitude of forces can be traced in the letter of Paul to the Romans. His language is permeated with the use of metaphors and images of dominion. The body is set as a space in which these forces of dominion thrive. Forces such as Sin, Law and Death are personified and the reader is urged to choose life under the regiment of metaphorically expressed counter forces such as Favour and Life.
Life and death also often feature in the Two-Ways-Metaphor, which can be commonly traced in early Christian texts, but also in other contexts through the lens of time. The Two-Ways-Metaphor illustrates from a spatial perspective a choice between two opposite directions in relation to life’s conduct. This does not only concern the description of alternative ways, but also the question in so much as to how can freedom of choice in life’s existential decisions be viewed if the alternatives are predetermined.
This brings us to the question of how autonomy in the decision making process is reflected since ancient times. It may be frequently observed in literature that a higher power, e.g. a god functions as an explanation for the actions of the protagonists resulting from difficult choices. This can be observed paradigmatically in the medieval discourse of love with regards to the poetics of persuasive personifications as Venus and Amor.