Medea's ars amandi and ars medendi in Ovid Metamorphoses 7

Ziosi, Antonio (2009) Medea's ars amandi and ars medendi in Ovid Metamorphoses 7. In: Venice International University’s Advanced Seminar in the Humanities , September 2009, Venice.
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The narration of the plague of Aegina in the middle of Book 7 of Ovid's Metamorphoses has always been considered a puzzling alien body within an oddly composed book that begins with the long Medea episode and ends with the tragic love story of Cephalus and Procris. Critics have often treated the different stories separately, partly because of the easily detectable “primary” intertextual references for each episode. Thus the figure of Medea has convincingly been analysed in relation to its intertextual epic and tragic models and as a “self-reflexive” character for its “past and future” allusions to its epic, elegiac and tragic “selves”, both in the heroine's literary life and within the Ovidian corpus. The Cephalus-Procris episode (studded with references to Aeneid IV) represents Ovid's play with elegiac rhetoric in revealing the illusionistic powers of metaphors. The account of the Plague, on the other hand, shows direct allusions to the two great examples of Latin didactic poetry and deftly combines different elements from both Lucretius's De Rerum Natura and Virgil's Georgics. A closer analysis, however, of the multiple levels of a subtler (and mainly Virgilian) underlying intertextual framework (throughout the whole of the book) seems to suggest a coherent structural link between its different parts (in particular, Medea's Apollonian love, her prodigies and witchcraft, the didactic treatment of the plague and the Cephalus-Procris episode). Thus the plague becomes a unifying metaphor for a recurrent elegiac theme in all episodes and, in this perspective, each story (as well as the entire book) acquires a richer meaning which seems to gesture towards some of the issues at the very essence of the poetics of the Metamorphoses: the use and role of rhetoric in the “metamorphic” action of poetry, the self-reflexivity of (yet another) metapoetic narrator, the play with and the re-reading of literary genres and even of the poet's “literary career”, the questioning and the testing of the power and the limits of carmina.

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Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Ziosi, Antonio
Deposit date
19 Oct 2010 15:27
Last modified
16 May 2011 12:14

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