Ovid Before Exile: Art and Punishment in the Metamorphoses
Ovid’s epic masterpiece, the Metamorphoses, with its fiercely irreverent tone and its resolute defiance of the boundaries of genre, stands boldly apart both from the other poetry of its age and from the epic tradition that preceded it. A generation earlier, a high culture of poets and patrons had flourished, giving rise to the great works of Virgil, Horace, Propertius, and Tibullus. But, in this compelling new reading of the Metamorphoses in its social and political context, Patricia Johnson demonstrates that Ovid was writing in an artistic atmosphere succumbing to a stranglehold of implicit censorship that culminated in his exile from Rome in 8 AD.
Johnson shows that, in the poem, danger permeates acts of artistic creation. In Ovid’s portrayals of mythic figures—from Arachne and Minerva to Orpheus in the Underworld—artists who please their audience triumph; the defiant and subversive are destroyed. She reveals that in the poem, as in late Augustan Rome, the overriding criterion for artistic success was not aesthetic beauty but satisfying the expectations and desires of powerful audiences. She convincingly demonstrates just how unprecedented the Metamorphoses was in the epic tradition.
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Aeneas Aeneid aesthetic allusions Amatoria ancient Apollo Arachne Arachne's tapestry Argonautica argues artistic artworks Athena audience Augustan period Augustus Barchiesi Calliope Calliope's song Catullus challenge chapter creation Cyane death depicted described discussion divine Eclogues ekphrasis elegiac Emathides epic Epistulae Ex Ponto Eurydice example exile Fantham Fasti Feeney final genre Georgics gigantomachy goddess gods Greek Hellenistic Hinds Horace Horace's Jupiter late Augustan Latin Leach lines literary Maecenas Medusa Metamor Metamorphoses Metamorphosis of Persephone Minerva mortal Mount Helicon Muses myth narrative narrator nymphs Odes Olympian Orpheus Orpheus's song Orphic Ovid Ovid's Ovid's episode Ovid's Metamorphoses Ovid's Orpheus Ovidian pastoral peplos performance Persephone pheus Pluto poem poem's poetic contest poetry poets political praise Propertius punishment rape of Proserpina role Roman Rome second song Segal sexual shield singing story theme Theocritus tion traditional transformation Tristia Typhoeus underworld Venus Vergil's virginal weaver weaving contest women Zeus