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Wednesday, April 22 • 1:20pm - 1:40pm
Ovid’s Judgment of Heroes: Comic Criticism in the Metamorphoses

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Revolutionary in its time and still today, Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a poem of epic proportions, thematically linked by the topic of transformation. Ovid transforms the conventions of literature and culture in Metamorphoses by using a nontraditional form and mocking diction and tone. These are themselves metapoetic statements which both glorify and critique the epic genre. Central to any good epic is a hero figure; Ovid has many. By retelling the famous stories chronicled in the work of Homer and other poets, Ovid transforms the idea of the epic hero, imbuing deeply entrenched values and idealizations with nuanced perspective. Ovid presents existing, culturally-revered heroes from myth and epic through a subtle “Ovidian” lens, with a powerfully original tone and perspective, altering our understanding of the weighty legacy of epic heroism. In Ovid there is always underlying wit and subtle mockery, even when the poet writes in the revered and serious epic tradition. In this thesis, I will compare the language of two books of the larger epic to reveal a link between Ovid’s treatment of the Homeric hero Ulysses and his treatment of Rome’s first emperor, Caesar Augustus. Ovid reinvents Homer’s epic hero, favoring an intellectual and emotionally-conscious hero over a man of brute strength and reckless valor, powerfully pointing to whom he believes to be the most effective hero. Therefore, this thesis posits that Metamorphoses is not merely a collection of stories linked by the theme of physical transformations, but a instead a revolutionary reevaluation of Augustan ideals.

Wednesday April 22, 2015 1:20pm - 1:40pm PDT
038 Karpen Hall