Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses; Divine Comedy by nks54907

VIEWS: 27 PAGES: 9

									                                                                                                                                   12/5/2007




                       Introduction to Ovid’s
                       Metamorphoses; Divine Comedy




                   Ovid’s Background
                        A late Augustan poet, Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17) had not experienced civil
                        war and turmoil to the same degree that writers such as Livy and Vergil
                        had
                                took the prosperity and peace of the Augustan Age for granted
                                did not feel the same obligation towards Augustus, but, on the other
                                hand, knew no other kind of government
                        Wrote primarily elegiac love poetry such as the Amores, the Ars
                        Amatoria, and a work on mythological heroines
                        Scandal and Exile
                                Ovid’s often racy works on love did not accord well with Augustus’ moral
                                program
                                Nevertheless he became the leading poet in Rome and was increasingly
                                popular
                                In A.D. 8 he was exiled to a small town on the Black Sea because of
                                carmen et error (a poem and a mistake)
                                   Both the identity of the offending poem and the nature of the mistake (some have suggested an
                                   improper relationship with the emperor’s daughter or even political conspiracy) are unknown
                                Although he repeatedly asked for permission to return to Rome, Ovid died
                                while in exile



                    12/5/2007                      34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses                       2




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                                             1
                                                                                                  12/5/2007




                    The Metamorphoses: An “Unorthodox” Epic

                        Some time shortly before his exile, Ovid completed an epic
                        composed of 15 books
                        Epic only in form: written in dactylic hexameters
                        Un-epic in content: a collection of Greek, Roman, and
                        even Near Eastern myths
                        Often playful and even iconoclastic in tone
                          at times mocks the deeds of the gods
                          challenges traditional stories and perhaps even some
                          aspects of the Augustan regime
                        Frequently influenced by Ovid’s interest in love poetry




                    12/5/2007         34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   3




                    Influence of Metamorphoses

                         “Among all the writings of Latin authors, few have
                         appealed to a wider public or had more effect on later
                         literature than the Metamorphoses of Ovid. . . The
                         result is a treasure-house of myth and legend which
                         has continued to charm succeeding generations,
                         providing a source from which the whole of western
                         European literature has derived inspiration.” —M.M.
                         Innes
                         The Metamorphoses was influential throughout the
                         Middle Ages and served as a great source for
                         Renaissance Art

                    12/5/2007         34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   4




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                            2
                                                                                                               12/5/2007




                    Tension between Epic and Elegiac
                        Previous to Metamorphoses Ovid had primarily written “elegiac”
                        poetry
                           This metrical form was used by Hellenistic and Roman poets
                           primarily for love poetry
                        Metamorphoses is an epic in form (dactylic hexameter) and in
                        length
                        Nevertheless Metamorphoses is elegiac in nature in that it
                        consists of discreet stories strung together
                           Even in writing his long “epic,” he composes it of short,
                           Hellenistic episodes, often focusing on love
                           Heliconian Fountain (Met. 5.256-64): Urania brings Pallas to
                           see a new fountain created by the strike of the newly-born
                           Pegasus’ hoof
                                A locus amoenus!
                                The word for “strike,” ictus, is also used for the stressed beat of a line
                                of poetry
                                The episode is actually a veiled discussion of meter and poetry,
                                a hint that this is elegiac in epic


                    12/5/2007                 34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses        5




                    Ovid’s Theme?
                       Metamorphoses is Greek for “changes”
                            The common element throughout the work is an interest in changes,
                            particularly physical transformations
                       Changes in bodily shape are not the only changes, others include:
                            Psychological changes
                            Changes in the myths themselves
                                Apollo shoots Pytho with a thousand arrows . . .
                            Changes in the depiction of gods
                                Majestic > worthy of ridicule > impotent
                            Changes in the structure of the poem and in the use of motifs
                                Ovid divided his epic into 15 books, but his content divisions
                                often ignore this formal structure
                            Changes in changes!
                                Consequences of divine vengeance > spontaneous, people not able to “hold
                                their shape” or maintain their conditions



                    12/5/2007                 34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses        6




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                         3
                                                                                                           12/5/2007




                    “Purpose” and Organization of
                    Metamorphoses
                        “Changes of shape, new forms, are the theme which my spirit
                        impels me now to recite. Inspire me, O gods (it is you who have
                        even transformed my art), and spin me a thread from the world’s
                        beginning down to my own lifetime, in one continuous poem.”
                        (Prologue)
                                One story leads into another in rough chronological
                                order
                        Divine Comedy (1-2)
                        Divine Vengeance (3-6.411)
                        Romance and Pathological Love (6.412-12)
                        Ovid’s “Little Aeneid,” a new telling of Roman history (13-15)
                        These are not hard divisions—Ovid violates his own structure and
                        sometimes puts stories from one section in another!

                    12/5/2007                  34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   7




                    Ovid, Myth, and Contemporary Allusions

                        “In cloudless skies you can clearly see a path in the heavens; men
                        call it the Milky Way, well known for its brilliant whiteness. This is
                        the road which the gods must take to the mighty Thunderer’s royal
                        palace…the common divinities live outside; right here the elite and
                        heavenly powers that be have established their hearths and
                        homes. And this is the place which, if I could muster the boldness to
                        say it, I’d not be afraid to describe as the Palatine Hill of the
                        firmament.” (Ov. Met. 1.166-176)
                                The Palatine Hill in Rome is where the Roman aristocracy, including
                                Augustus, lived
                                Jupiter = Augustus
                                   Flattery?
                                   Does Jupiter’s subsequent behavior earn him respect or
                                   reproval?



                    12/5/2007                  34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   8




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                     4
                                                                                                                            12/5/2007




                    Structure of Divine Comedy, Book I
                       Prologue (1.1–4)
                       The Beginning of the Universe (cosmology and anthropology)
                          Creation (5–88)
                          Four Ages (89–150): Justice leaves the earth during the Iron Age
                          (149; becomes constellation Virgo)
                             Giants (151–162)
                             Lycaon (163–252)
                          The Flood (253–415)
                                Deucalion and Pyrrha!
                       Python (416–50)
                       Apollo and Daphne (451–567)
                       Io 1(568–686)
                          Pan and Syrinx interlude (687–712)
                       Io 2 (713–747)
                       Phaethon 1 (748–79)
                          Story spills over into book 2


                    12/5/2007              34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses                        9




                    Apollo and Daphne
                                                                   Defeat of Python: Apollo is an “epic” figure
                                                                        Bridge: after the flood, the earth gives birth to
                                                                        all kinds of creatures, including a monster
                                                                        snake!
                                                                   Apollo is then defeated by love, revealing
                                                                   Ovid’s main interest in love (elegiac) poetry
                                                                   After being taunted by Apollo, Cupid draws
                                                                   two arrows, one to kindle love, the other to
                                                                   put it to flight
                                                                   Daphne’s prayer: “’Help me, Father!’ she
                                                                   pleaded. ‘If rivers have power over nature,
                                                                   mar the beauty which made me admired too
                                                                   well, by changing my form!’ She had hardly
                                                                   ended her prayer when a heavy numbness
                                                                   came over her body; her soft white bosom
                                                                   was ringed in a layer of bark, her hand was
                                                                   turned into foliage, her arms in to branches.
                                                                   The feet that had run so nimbly were sunk
                                                                   into sluggish roots; her head was confined in
                                                                   a treetop;” (Ovid, Meta. 1.544-554)
                                                                        Daphne, now a laurel, becomes Apollo’s tree



                    12/5/2007              34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses                       10




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                                      5
                                                                                                         12/5/2007




                    The Misadventures of Io
                    cf. Zeus and Io reference in Prometheus Bound
                        Bridge: Rivers gather to “congratulate” Daphne’s
                        father. Only Inachus does not come because of
                        the loss of his daughter, Io.
                        A change in story? Another version had Jupiter
                        seduce her while disguised as a cloud. Ovid
                        makes the incident violent and not “loving”
                        Whereas a friendly power turned Daphne into
                        a tree to help her avoid an amorous deity,
                        Jupiter changes Io into a cow after their affair
                        to hide her from Juno
                        Not fooled, Juno asks for the cow!
                        Places it under the guard of her hundred-eyed
                        servant, Argus

                                       “Jupiter and Io,” Antonio da Correggio, c. 1530



                    12/5/2007               34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   11




                    Pan and Syrinx
                        Transition from the Io story
                           Mercury “the fast talker” lulls Argus to sleep by boring him!
                                Apollodorus recounted instead that Hermes had hit him with a rock
                                Bridge: the Syrinx story is the tale told by Hermes!
                        Pan and Syrinx
                          Syrinx, a nymph, was chased through the forest by Pan, a
                          mountain god, while calling on the nymphs to protect her
                          “So just at the moment when Pan believed that his Syrinx was
                          caught, instead of a fair nymph’s body, he found himself clutching
                          some marsh reeds. But while he was sighing in disappointment,
                          the movement of air in the rustling reeds awakened a thin, low,
                          plaintive sound…and so, when he’d bound some reeds of
                          unequal length with a coating of wax, a syrinx—the name of his
                          loved one—stayed in his hands.” (Ovid, Meta. 1.704-711)
                          The nymph becomes Pan’s syrinx, or musical pipes


                    12/5/2007               34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   12




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                   6
                                                                                                          12/5/2007




                    Return to the Io Story
                        Return to the Io story: Hermes
                        kills the sleeping Argus
                                His eyes adorn a peacock’s tail!
                        Juno’s revenge: Io’s wandering
                        Jupiter finally placates Juno with
                        love!
                        Io regains her human shape: “All
                        that survived of the snow-white
                        cow was its glowing beauty”
                        (1.743)
                           Still, Io thinks she is still a cow
                           and is afraid to speak “in case
                           she low like a heifer!”


                    12/5/2007                34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   13




                    Pan and Syrinx




                    12/5/2007                34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses   14




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                    7
                                                                                                              12/5/2007




                    Phaëthon
                        The Phaëthon story bridges—or better transgresses—formal
                        book divisions
                          Ovid is playing with, that is “changing,” the structure of his
                          poem

                        Phaethon brags that he is the son of the sun god
                        Sol/Phoebus/Apollo swears by the river Styx to grant his son
                        anything he asks
                                Motif of the foolish promise
                          Phaethon desires to ride his father’s chariot for a day
                        Phaethon panics and loses control of the chariot
                          Provides several aetiological myths:
                                   He veers too high and the earth grows chill
                                   He veers too low and burns Africa into a desert and the Ethiopians’
                                   skin black!


                    12/5/2007                  34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses     15




                    Death of Phaëthon

                        Eventually, Jupiter was
                        forced to intervene
                                “Next a bolt was carefully
                                poised by his right ear.
                                Jupiter hurled it at
                                Phaëthon, flinging both
                                driver from chariot and life
                                from body at once. He
                                quenched one fire with
                                another.” (Ovid, Met. 2.311-
                                313)




                    12/5/2007                  34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses     16




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                        8
                                                                                                                 12/5/2007




                    Jupiter and Callisto
                                                                                   Callisto: a follower of
                                                                                   Diana who had sworn
                                                                                   to remain a virgin
                                                                                   After lying with
                                                                                   Jupiter, her pregnant
                                                                                   belly is discovered by
                                                                                   Diana while they
                                                                                   bathe nude, and she
                                                                                   is exiled
                                                                                   In revenge, Juno
                                                                                   turns her into a bear
                                                                                   Jupiter places her and
                                                                                   her would-be hunter
                                                                                   Arcas into the sky as
                                                                                   constellations
                                                                                           Ursa Major and
                                                                                           Minor




                    12/5/2007      34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's Metamorphoses                    17




34-DivineComedy; Introduction to Ovid's
Metamorphoses                                                                                                           9

								
To top