Playing Gods: Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Politics of by Andrew Feldherr

By Andrew Feldherr

This publication deals a singular interpretation of politics and identification in Ovid's epic poem of changes, the Metamorphoses. Reexamining the emphatically fictional personality of the poem, taking part in Gods argues that Ovid makes use of the matter of fiction within the textual content to redefine the facility of poetry in Augustan Rome. The ebook additionally presents the fullest account but of ways the poem pertains to the diversity of cultural phenomena that outlined and projected Augustan authority, together with spectacle, theater, and the visible arts. Andrew Feldherr argues key to the political in addition to literary strength of the Metamorphoses is how it manipulates its readers' expertise that its tales can't probably be precise. through always juxtaposing the imaginary and the true, Ovid indicates how a poem made from fictions can and can't collect the authority and presence of alternative discursive kinds. One vital approach that the poem does this can be via narratives that create a "double imaginative and prescient" by means of casting characters as either legendary figures and enduring presences within the actual landscapes of its readers. This narrative gadget creates the type of tensions among identity and distance that Augustan Romans may have felt whilst experiencing imperial spectacle and different modern cultural varieties. packed with unique interpretations, enjoying Gods constructs a version for political readings of fiction that would be invaluable not just to classicists yet to literary theorists and cultural historians in different fields.

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Sample text

Not only do strange or incredible appearances become a defining feature of fabulae, but these narratives themselves are sometimes figured as presenting a strange or implausible “form” to the reader. 2). 16 Indeed, his incapacity to identify with the perspectives of either of the characters in the Pan and Syrinx story is precisely what qualifies him to act as Io’s guard. He can neither recognize or identify with the metamorphosed object of the god’s desire nor, like Pan, can he desire her himself.

If metamorphosis generally marks the limit of what is consistent with the moral seriousness of heroic epic, this is the line on which Metamorphoses dances. The poem’s meter, size, and incorporation of the Trojan and Roman subject matter of epic invite the reader to view the poem in its entirety as a rival to those earlier works. Should we read metamorphosis through epic eyes, with an even greater awareness of its essential unbelievability and trivializing effect? Can the epic form even save the Metamorphoses from itself by transfiguring its fabulous subject matter into a grand history of the Augustan world, just as Vergil allows metamorphosis a new role in his poem?

12 And as Io’s shape alone can suffice to categorize and define her, so too the poem’s linguistic play, the attention it attracts to its own form, can seem to take over the narrative content, partly, in the sense we have seen, in that the story that is told can seem to be so self-referential that it does nothing but provide an allegory for the style of the narrative itself. But that is not all there is to the relationship between narrative form and the form of the characters. The problem of Io’s changed form offers more than a paradigm for how the reader can interpret the text of the Io story.

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