Ovid and Virgil at the North Pole

Philip Hardie

in Two Thousand Years of Solitude

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603848
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731587 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Ovid and Virgil at the North Pole

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This chapter examines elements of Ovidian exilic epistolarity in Marvell’s Latin poem ‘A Letter to Dr Ingelo’, addressed to a friend abroad in distant Uppsala as part of a British embassy to Queen Christina of Sweden. ‘A Letter to Dr Ingelo’ combines Horatian and Ovidian epistles, Virgilian pastoral, Virgilian dynastic epic, and Ovidian mythology, with recurrent allusion to Ovid’s exile poetry pulling this generic mix together. The poem’s central panegyric of the Swedish queen is processed through representational devices used in Ovid’s exile poetry to bridge the spatial distance between writer and reader, as Marvell tracks the course Ovid had explored before him of addressing a sole ruler, albeit one milder and more forgiving than the Augustus who sent Ovid into exile. Allusion to the English monarch Elizabeth points a contrast with the use of Ovidian exilic topics by Raleigh and Spenser in their more troubled relationships with Elizabeth.

Keywords: ‘A Letter to Dr Ingelo’; Marvell; monarch; panegyric; Raleigh; Spenser; generic mix; Augustus

Chapter.  7015 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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