Article

Ovid in the Middle Ages

Jamie C. Fumo

in Medieval Studies

ISBN: 9780195396584
Published online March 2017 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396584-0224
Ovid in the Middle Ages

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
  • Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)
  • Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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This article focuses on the academic study of, and literary engagement with, Ovid’s works in the medieval period, from the 12th to the 15th centuries. Long regarded as a poor cousin to Renaissance humanism, the medieval academic commentary tradition on Ovid’s texts has emerged as a fertile area of study. The preservation and circulation of Ovid manuscripts in medieval monasteries and centers of learning, the varied uses to which Ovid’s texts were put, and the range of exegetical strategies beyond allegory have all attracted vigorous critical attention in recent decades. Major advances have been made in locating and documenting manuscript witnesses, in developing taxonomies of commentaries, and in better understanding how Ovid’s texts were processed by medieval readers. Although much work remains to be done, researchers today can benefit from progress made in tracing the textual distribution of manuscripts and from major new installments in the critical editing of Ovidian commentaries. The field of Ovidian commentary is vast and requires specialized skills to navigate; at the same time, the rich territory of Ovidian adaptation in imaginative literature crosses disciplines in demanding ways. This article charts a path for the researcher by highlighting important scholarly tools and guides to the medieval Ovid. It also presents details of the subfield of medieval biographies of Ovid and vernacular literary Ovidianism. Finally, the article surveys research on scholastic techniques and contexts pertaining to Ovid, and provides detailed information regarding specific commentaries. Principles of selectivity in such a large research area preclude treatment of the transmission of individual Ovidian myths, to which numerous studies have been devoted, and of literary responses beyond western Europe. Editions and critical studies have been selected to represent the shape of each subfield, and for their value in directing the researcher to further resources.

Article.  10901 words. 

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400) ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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