Arachne, Argus, and St. John: Transgressive Art in Dante and Ovid

Teodolinda Barolini

in Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823227037
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241019 | DOI:
Arachne, Argus, and St. John: Transgressive Art in Dante and Ovid

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In lieu of the traditional portrayal of Dante as an ingenuous and filial devotee of his classical forerunners, American critics have recently proposed a less benign poet who deliberately revises the work of even his most beloved precursors. The paradigm that has emerged from this recent critical interest in Dante's relations with his classical precursors, not to mention his relations with precursors in general, is a spiral-like configuration of confiscation and correction, whereby Dante avails himself of the genius of classical antiquity while at the same time revising it in such a way as to demonstrate its defects and limitations, in a word, its non-Christianity. While in the case of Vergil, this paradigm operates both with respect to the text of Aenid and with the respect to the Vergilian persona Dante constructs for his poem, in the case of Ovid such practices are almost exclusively textual, directed at the Metamorphoses rather than at an Ovidian persona who appears only briefly in limbo.

Keywords: Dante; Aenid; classical antiquity; Vergil; Ovid; Metamorphoses

Chapter.  5670 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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