Article

Ovid’s Metamorphoses

Lee Fratantuono

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online April 2017 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0251
Ovid’s Metamorphoses

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Ovid’s Metamorphoses is an epic poem in fifteen books that offers a panoramic vision of classical mythology from the creation of the world through the apotheosis of Julius Caesar. The hexameter epic was composed in the last years before the poet’s exile in 8 ce; the text that has survived is complete, though now and again it shows evidence of a lack of final revision. Ovid refers to his own work at Tristia 1.1.117–120, where he speaks of the fifteen books of his epic that have been saved from the metaphorical funeral pyre, books that reflect the poet’s own changing fortunes in the wake of his banishment to Tomis. Ovid’s magnum opus is deeply invested in intertextual relationships with the literary achievements of his predecessors, including the tradition of metamorphic myth that was popular in the Hellenistic Age. It is also very much a product of the political and social milieu of Augustan Rome, with attendant reflection and commentary on the nature of the Augustan principate and the place of the poet in the nascent new order. Ovid’s epic of transformation and wondrous metamorphosis has had a profound influence on later art and literature, inspiring works as diverse as the 14th-century Old French Ovide moralisé, the paintings of the Italian Renaissance master Titian, and the first opera of Mozart (Apollo et Hyacinthus, K. 38).

Article.  4359 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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