Medievalists have long been interested in the "abandoned woman," a figure historically used to examine the value of traditional male heroism. Moving beyond previous studies which have focused primarily on Virgil's Dido, Suzanne Hagedorn focuses on the vernacular works of Dante, Bocaccio, and Chaucer, arguing that revisiting the classical tradition of the abandoned woman enables one to reconsider ancient epics and myths from a female perspective and question assumptions about gender roles in medieval literature.
Ovid’s Fasti, his poem on the Roman calendar, became especially influential during the fifteenth century as a guide to classical Roman culture. Ovid’s treatment of mythological and astronomical lore, his investigation of anniversaries and customs, and his charting of monuments and history offered humanist poets and intellectuals an abundance of material to unravel. They could identify with Ovid as vates operosus, or hard-working seer–poet, suggesting both researcher and inspired authority.
Angela Fritsen’s Antiquarian Voices:The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid’s Fasti offers the first study of the Renaissance exegesis and imitation of Ovid as antiquarian. Fritsen analyzes the Fasti commentaries by Paolo Marsi (1440–1484) and Antonio Costanzi (1436–1490) as well as the connections between the two works. It situates Ovidian Fasti studies in the Roman Academy under the mentorship of Pomponio Leto. Nowhere could the investigation of the Fasti be carried out better than in Rome. The humanists had a guide to the City in Ovid. They also regarded the Fasti as well suited to the ideology of the ancient Roman imperium’s renewal in modern papal Rome.
Antiquarian Voices illustrates how in reviving the Fasti, the humanists returned Rome to its original splendor. The book demonstrates that the humanists were eager to relate the Fasti to their antiquarian pursuits—as well as to their rising personal fame.
During his last two decades (ca. 2 BCE–17 CE), Ovid composed, but never completed, his Fasti, an elegiac representation of Rome’s rites and festivals: only six of twelve month-books remain. Earlier scholars have claimed that this is due either to Ovid’s exile from Rome (which put him out of touch with the Roman literary world) or else his frustration over the Roman calendar’s discontinuity. Drawing upon recent scholarship in gender studies and Lacanian film theory, Richard J. King analyzes this exilic incompletion as inviting the citizen male reader into what he calls an “angular” or “skewed” viewpoint, which interrogates the Roman hierarchical and male-dominated social order, insofar as it is mirrored in the Roman calendar of rites and festivals. Ovid (already well known and even infamous as the composer of erotic poems and the Metamorphoses) does this by emulating the civic gesture of “calendar presentation,” whereby upwardly mobile adult male citizens caused calendars to be carved in stone and set up in conspicuous public places to reflect the city’s pride and to build their own prestige as public figures. In this innovative study, King discusses the Fasti as Ovid’s socially strategic use of this gesture. Interrupted by exile and filled with varying explanations of Roman festivals, Ovid’s poetic version manifests a form whose brokenness comments on the fractured identity of the exiled poet and citizen subjects generally in an imperial order ambivalent toward its greatest poet. Desiring Rome expands upon recent recognition of the Fasti’s centrality to early imperial politics by situating the poem’s “failure” within broader negotiations of identity between early imperial citizen-subjects and the cultural ideology of Roman manhood.
If, as a child, you conducted conversations with beloved dolls, or if, as an adult, you have entered virtual worlds inhabited by digital humans who inspire devotion in real people, you have participated in one of humanity’s most potent yet least explored traditions. Falling in love (and out of love) with statues, George Hersey reveals here, has been an instrumental practice since antiquity in our efforts to understand, improve, and empower ourselves.
Hersey’s history of statue love begins in Cyprus, home of the legendary sculptor Pygmalion, who famously grew enamored of his own creation. Examining the island’s prehistoric images of Aphrodite—the love goddess who brought Pygmalion’s sculpture to life—Hersey traces the origins of statue love back to the Cypriot followers who adored her terra-cotta likenesses. He goes on to explore ideas about human replicas in the works of Empedocles, Aristotle, Lucretius, and Ovid, whose definitive account of the Pygmalion myth introduced the notion that statues have the potential to induce physical responses in their viewers. Finding avatars of Ovid’s living image in everything from pagan idols and early Christian statuary to eighteenth-century painting to modern action figures and marionettes, Hersey concludes by investigating the concern that these automata will eventually replace humans.
In the process, he narrates a powerful history of artificial life at a moment when—with the development of robot soldiers, ever more sophisticated genetic engineering, and a continually expanding digital universe—it seems more real than ever.
M. L . Stapleton's Harmful Eloquence: Ovid's "Amores" from Antiquity to Shakespeare traces the influence of the early elegiac poetry of Ovid (43 b.c.e.-17 c.e.) on European literature from 500-1600 c.e. The Amores served as a classical model for love poetry in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and were essential to the formation of fin' Amors, or "courtly love." Medieval Latin poets, the troubadours, Dante, Petrarch, and Shakespeare were all familiar with Ovid in his various forms, and all depended greatly upon his Amores in composing their cansos, canzoniere, and sonnets.
Harmful Eloquence begins with a detailed analysis of the Amores themselves and their artistic unity. It moves on to explain the fragmentary transmission of the Amores in the "Latin Anthology" and the cohesion of the fragments into the conventions of Medieval Latin and troubadour "courtly love" poetry. Two subsequent chapters explain the use of the Amores, their narrator, and the conventions of "courtly love" in the poetry of both Dante and Petrarch. The final chapter concentrates on Shakespeare's reprocessing and parody of this material in his sonnets.
Harmful Eloquence analyzes the intertextual transmission of the Amores in major medieval and Renaissance love poetry for the first time. No previous study has devoted itself exclusively to this Ovidian text in this particular way. The premise that Ovid consciously used the device of persona from the very beginning of his writing career is fully explored, as is the "Ovidian hypothesis" of Wilibald Schroetter. Connections between Dante's La vita nuova and the Amores are newly discovered; significant for Shakespeare studies, the use of Christopher Marlowe's translation of the Amores by Shakespeare in his "dark lady" sonnets is also carefully analyzed for the first time.
Medievalists, classicists, and scholars of Renaissance studies will find Harmful Eloquence particularly engaging and useful, as will all those interested in the process and methods of literary transmission.
M. L. Stapleton is Associate Professor of English, Stephen F. Austin University.
Barbara Pavlock unmasks major figures in Ovid’s Metamorphoses as surrogates for his narrative persona, highlighting the conflicted revisionist nature of the Metamorphoses. Although Ovid ostensibly validates traditional customs and institutions, instability is in fact a defining feature of both the core epic values and his own poetics. The Image of the Poet explores issues central to Ovid’s poetics—the status of the image, the generation of plots, repetition, opposition between refined and inflated epic style, the reliability of the narrative voice, and the interrelation of rhetoric and poetry. The work explores the constructed author and complements recent criticism focusing on the reader in the text.
Widely praised for his translations of Boethius and Ariosto, esteemed translator David R. Slavitt here returns to Ovid, once again bringing to the contemporary ear the spirited, idiomatic, audacious charms of this master poet. The love here described is of the anguished, ruinous kind, like a sickness, and Ovid prescribes cures.
In the Heroides, the Roman poet Ovid wittily plucks fifteen abandoned heroines from ancient myth and literature and creates the fiction that each woman writes a letter to the hero who left her behind. But in giving voice to these heroines, is Ovid writing like a woman, or writing "Woman" like a man?
Using feminist and psychoanalytic approaches to examine the "female voice" in the Heroides, Sara H. Lindheim closely reads these fictive letters in which the women seemingly tell their own stories. She points out that in Ovid’s verse epistles all the women represent themselves in a strikingly similar and disjointed fashion. Lindheim turns to Lacanian theory of desire to explain these curious and hauntingly repetitive representations of the heroines in the "female voice." Lindheim’s approach illuminates what these poems reveal about both masculine and feminine constructions of the feminine
The transformation of the myth of Apollo and Daphne in literary treatments from Ovid through the Spanish Golden Age are studied in theme and variation, showing how the protean figures of the myth meant different things to different ages, each age fashioning the lovers in its own image. The Myth of Apollo and Daphne focuses on the themes of love, agon, and the grotesque and their transformations as the writers, through a kind of artificial mythopoeia, invent variants for the tale, altering the ancient model to create their new, distinctive visions.
Ovid's Art of Love (Ars Amatoria) and its sequel Remedies for Love (Remedia Amoris) are among the most notorious poems of the ancient world. In AD 8, the emperor Augustus exiled Ovid to the shores of the Black Sea for "a poem and a mistake." Whatever the mistake may have been, the poem was certainly the Ars Amatoria, which the emperor found a bit too immoral.
In exile, Ovid composed Sad Things (Tristia), which included a defense of his life and work as brilliant and cheeky as his controversial love manuals. In a poem addressed to Augustus (Tristia 2), he argues, "Since all of life and literature is one long, steamy sex story, why single poor Ovid out?" While seemingly groveling at the emperor's feet, he creates an image of Augustus as capricious tyrant and himself as suffering artist that wins over every reader (except the one to whom it was addressed).
Bringing together translations of the Ars Amatoria, Remedia Amoris, and Tristia 2, Julia Dyson Hejduk's The Offense of Love is the first book to include both the offense and the defense of Ovid's amatory work in a single volume. Hejduk's elegant and accurate translations, helpful notes, and comprehensive introduction will guide readers through Ovid's wickedly witty poetic tour of the literature, mythology, topography, religion, politics, and (of course) sexuality of ancient Rome.
Finalist, National Translation Award, American Literary Translators Association
The epic Metamorphoses, Ovid’s most renowned work, has regained its stature among the masterpieces of great poets such as Vergil, Horace, and Tibullus. Yet its irreverent tone and bold defiance of generic boundaries set the Metamorphoses apart from its contemporaries. Ovid before Exile provides a compelling new reading of the epic, examining the text in light of circumstances surrounding the final years of Augustus’ reign, a time when a culture of poets and patrons was in sharp decline, discouraging and even endangering artistic freedom of expression.
Patricia J. Johnson demonstrates how the production of art—specifically poetry—changed dramatically during the reign of Augustus. By Ovid’s final decade in Rome, the atmosphere for artistic work had transformed, leading to a drop in poetic production of quality. Johnson shows how Ovid, in the episodes of artistic creation that anchor his Metamorphoses, responded to his audience and commented on artistic circumstances in Rome.
Ovid’s Causes offers a new reassessment of the poet’s longest and most difficult poem, the Metamorphoses. This poem has long been denied epic stature because of its stylistic and thematic diversity. K. Sara Myers demonstrates that the poem must be understood as the inheritor and interpreter of the Roman tradition of cosmological epic. She situates the poem in the traditions and conventions of Roman poetry and considers the ways in which it both fulfills and overturns the expectations of the epic genre.
The first and final chapters of this book examine the scientific and cosmological framework of the poem. Ovid’s juxtaposition of scientific and mythological explanations is an aspect of his sophisticated manipulation of truth and fiction, and of the claims of philosophical poetry and mythological poetry.
This illuminating study presents much useful material for students of Roman poetry or of Greek literary influences that profoundly influenced its development. Students and scholars of ancient poetical traditions will likewise find much of interest.
Ovid's poetry has in recent years enjoyed a remarkable renaissance: in particular, there has been a surge of interest in the Heroides, the Fasti, and his exile poetry. Ovid's Literary Loves, by Barbara Weiden Boyd, reopens the Amores for the modern reader. The volume establishes a context for the recent reception of the Amores, and proposes an alternative approach to the collection by discussing recent trends in the discussion of imitation in Roman poetry. A premise basic to most Ovidian studies has been that the Amores are not only imitative, but parodic, both of the elegiac genre writ large and of Propertius in particular. In contrast, Boyd emphasizes the many nonelegiac, non-Propertian features of the collection. Ovid's irony and its consequences are also discussed with special attention to the narrative structure of the three books.
Boyd's thoughtful approach to imitation in Latin poetry brings into prominence the formative role played by Virgil in shaping Ovid's "poetic memory," even in the Amores. The detailed examination of Ovidian extended similes shows how the poet exploits the literary past precisely in order to free himself from generic restraint and to expand the narrow horizons of elegy. Boyd argues that this paradox is the essence of Ovidian poetics.
Ovid's Literary Loves is an imaginative approach to imitation in Latin poetry and makes a significant contribution to current discussions of the subject. This is one of the first contemporary scholarly monographs on the Amores, and it will find a large and welcoming audience of Latinists at all levels of study.
Barbara Weiden Boyd is Associate Professor of Classics, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.
Roman love-poet Ovid, best known for the epic Metamorphoses, offers in his Fasti the self-proclaimed goal of exploring and explicating the Roman calendar. Published in his maturity circa 14 CE, the Fasti presents claims of aetiological, astronomical, and even antiquarian interests, but more importantly the poem highlights an extraordinary prominence of female characters at work, play, and worship in its verses. From flirtatious goddesses to talkative old women, beautiful puellae to stern prophetesses and beyond, Ovid’s “calendar girls” appear in a vast and kaleidoscopic array of guises and narratives, importing and transforming literary genre and expectation alike in a poem that already in shape and purpose is unique in Latin literature. The poet’s long-standing fascination with female figures that had first appeared in his earliest work and then accompanied him throughout his career now resurfaces in a much more complex form.
Of interest to literary scholars, antiquarians, and those studying the social and political roles of ancient women, Ovid’s Women of the Year offers an intriguing view of an Ovidian poem now coming into its own.
Between life and the art that imitates it is a vague, more shadowy category: images that exist autonomously. Pygmalion’s mythical sculpture, which magnanimous gods endowed with life after he fell in love with it, marks perhaps the first such instance in Western art history of an image that exists on its own terms, rather than simply imitating something (or someone) else. In The Pygmalion Effect, Victor I. Stoichita delivers this living image—as well as its many avatars over the centuries—from the long shadow cast by art that merely replicates reality.
Stoichita traces the reverberations of Ovid’s founding myth from ancient times through the advent of cinema. Emphasizing its erotic origins, he locates echoes of this famous fable in everything from legendary incarnations of Helen of Troy to surrealist painting to photographs of both sculpture and people artfully posed to simulate statues. But it was only with the invention of moving pictures, Stoichita argues, that the modern age found a fitting embodiment of the Pygmalion story’s influence. Concluding with an analysis of Alfred Hitchcock films that focuses on Kim Novak’s double persona in Vertigo, The Pygmalion Effect illuminates the fluctuating connections that link aesthetics, magic, and technical skill. In the process, it sheds new light on a mysterious world of living artifacts that, until now, has occupied a dark and little-understood realm in the history of Western image making.
Reading Ovid in Medieval Wales provides the first complete edition and discussion of the earliest surviving fragment of Ovid’s Ars amatoria, or The Art of Love, which derives from ninth-century Wales; the manuscript, which is preserved in Oxford, is heavily glossed mainly in Latin but also in Old Welsh. This study, by Classical and Celtic scholar Paul Russell, discusses the significance of the manuscript for classical studies and how it was absorbed into the classical Ovidian tradition. This volume’s main focus, however, is on the glossing and commentary and what these can teach us about the pedagogical approaches to Ovid’s text in medieval Europe and Britain and, more specifically, in Wales.
Russell argues that this annotated version of the Ars amatoria arose out of the teaching traditions of the Carolingian world and that the annotation, as we have it, was the product of a cumulative process of glossing and commenting on the text. He then surveys other glossed Ovid manuscripts to demonstrate how that accumulation was built up. Russell also explores the fascinating issue of why Ovid’s love poetry should be used to teach Latin verse in monastic contexts. Finally, he discusses the connection between this manuscript and the numerous references to Ovid in later Welsh poetry, suggesting that the Ovidian references should perhaps be taken to refer to love poetry more generically.
Ovid’s Heroides, a collection consisting mainly of poetic love letters sent by mythological heroines to their absent lovers, held a particular fascination for Renaissance readers. To understand their responses to these letters, we must ask exactly how and in what contexts those readers first encountered them: were they read in Latin or in the vernacular; as source texts for the learning of grammar and history or as love poetry; as epistolary and rhetorical models or as moral examples?
Renaissance Postscripts: Responding to Ovid’s Heroides in Sixteenth-Century France by Paul White offers an account of the wide variety of responses to the Heroides within the realm of humanist education, in the works of both Latin commentators and French translators, and as an example of a particular mode of imitation. The author examines how humanists shaped the discourse of Ovid’s heroines and heroes to pedagogical ends and analyses even the woodcuts that illustrated various editions. This study traces comparative readings of French translations through a period noted for important shifts in attitudes to the text and to poetic translation in general and offers an important history of the “reply epistle”—a mode of imitation attempted both in Latin and the vernacular. Renaissance Postscripts shows that while the Heroides was a versatile text that could serve a wide range of pedagogical and literary purposes, it was also a text that resisted the attempts of its interpreters to have the final word.
Although repetition is found in all ancient literary genres, it is especially pervasive in epic poetry. Ovid’s Metamorphoses exploits this dimension of the epic genre to a great extent; past critics have faulted it as too filled with recycled themes and language. This volume seeks a deeper understanding of Ovidian repetitiveness in the context of new scholarship on intertextuality and intratextuality, examining the purposeful reuse of previous material and the effects produced by a text’s repetitive gestures.
A shared vision of the possibilities of Latin epic poetry unites the essays, as does a series of attempts to realize those opportunities. Some of the pieces represent a traditional vein of allusion and intertextuality; others are more innovative in their approaches. Each, in a sense, stands as a placeholder for a methodology of theorizing the repetitive practices of poetry, of epic, and of Ovid in particular.
Contributors: Antony Augoustakis, Neil W. Bernstein, Barbara Weiden Boyd, Andrew Feldherr, Peter Heslin, Stephen Hinds, Sharon L. James, Alison Keith, Peter E. Knox, Darcy Krasne
Silenced Voices is a pointed examination of the loss of speech, exile from community, and memory throughout the literary corpus of the Roman poet Ovid. In his book-length poem Metamorphoses, characters are transformed in ways that include losing their power of human speech. In Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, poems written after Ovid's exile from Rome in 8 ce, he represents himself as also having been transformed, losing his voice.
Bartolo A. Natoli provides a unique cross-reading of these works. He examines how the motifs and ideas articulated in the Metamorphoses provide the template for the poet's representation of his own exile. Ovid depicts his transformation with an eye toward memory, reformulating how his exile would be perceived by his audience. His exilic poems are an attempt to recover the voice he lost and to reconnect with the community of Rome.