A Discourse of Wonders: Audience and Performance in Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

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University of Pennsylvania Press, Apr 15, 1999 - History - 272 pages
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In A Discourse of Wonders, Stephen M. Wheeler introduces a fresh perspective for readers of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Drawing on Ovidian scholarship and twentieth-century literary theory, he argues that the poem is not an anthology or collection but a single continuous performance. Wheeler's thorough, detailed analysis of how Ovid constructs, cultivates, and transforms his audience challenges the assumption that Ovid's narrative persona addresses the reader. Wheeler proposes instead that Ovid represents himself in the poem as an epic storyteller moved to tell a universal history of metamorphosis in the presence of a fictional audience. The longstanding critical interest in Ovid's poetics, Wheeler maintains, has tended to obscure the role of the audience in reading and interpreting the Metamorphoses.

A Discourse of Wonders offers an imaginative and accessible revaluation of one of the greatest surviving works of classical poetry, one whose enduring influence can be found in literature, art, music, and the performing arts from the Middle Ages to the present.


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The Fiction of VivaVoce Performance
The Divided Audience
Assembling an Audience
Discourse and Time
Directions to the Audience
The Danger of Disbelief
Translating Past into Present
Appendix A Internal Narrators and Audiences in

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References to this book

Spenser and Ovid
Syrithe Pugh
No preview available - 2005
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About the author (1999)

Stephen M. Wheeler teaches classics and ancient Mediterranean studies at Pennsylvania State University.

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