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Voicing One’s Will. Theatre as Audio-Visual Hypotyposis of the Poetic

Michael Groneberg


This contribution invites the reader on a conceptual and imaginary journey through the relation between the visual and auditive dimensions of theatre. A reading of Ovid’s metamorphosis of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis will illustrate the general idea which I will then confront with the recent proposal of Denis Guénoun to conceive of theatre as the (visual) hypotyposis of poetry. Hegel and others will serve as the catalyst potion to allow for a union of the two lines of thought, leading to the conclusion that theatre is not only a visual but also an auditive hypotyposis of the poetic – in a wide sense, encompassing music and dance. The roots of theatre are often identified in Ancient Greek tragedy and comedy. In that context, a link between the terms “theatre” and “theory” has been observed via the verb theôrein (being spectator, behold) and its noun thea (view, spectacle). It might thus seem that theatre is first of all to be viewed, and that sound and listening are secondary. The following thoughts provide an additional view – if not a different understanding.


poetry; theatre; hypotyposis; voice; sound.

Full Text:





Aristotle, Poetics. 1932. Aristotle in 23 volumes, Vol. 23, transl. by W.H. Fyfe. Cambridge: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd.

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Ovid, Met. 1994. Ovidi Nasonis Metamorphoseon libri quindecim/Metamorphosen in fünf¬zehn Büchern von P. Ovidius Naso. Edited by Michael von Albrecht. Stuttgart: Reclam.

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Groneberg, M. 2016. “Hermaphrodite’s Voice: Dealing with the Either-Or Attitude in Science, Law, and the Arts”. In Transgender and Intersex: Theoretical, Practical and Artistic Perspectives, ed. by Stefan Horlacher, 225-252. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Guénoun, D. 2018. “Théâtre et poésie: propositions”. In Penser la scène, ed. by Michael Groneberg, 169-181. Lausanne: Études de Lettres.

Hegel, G.W.F. 1975. Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art. transl. by T.M. Knox, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/gn-2021-001-gron

Copyright (©) 2021 Michael Groneberg – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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