Prof. G. Steinberg
Response Paper: Metamorphoses, Books XII-XV
Choose one of the following areas as the focus of your response paper:
- In Book XII and the first half of Book XIII of the Metamorphoses,
Ovid retells the story of the fall of Troy. How does Ovid's
version of the story differ from Virgil's? Why, for example, does Ovid
focus on the debate between Ulysses ( = Odysseus) and Ajax over the armor of
Achilles? How does the debate between Ulysses and Ajax relate or
respond to Virgil's retelling of the fall of Troy? How do Ovid's other
episodes from the Trojan War (Cygnus, Polyxena, etc.) relate or respond to
- How does Ovid's story of Aeneas differ from Virgil's? Why
does Ovid emphasize the episodes (and digressions) that he does (Galatea and
Polyphemus, Scylla and Glaucus, the Sibyl, Achaemenides and Macareus, the
war between the Latins and the Trojans)? What impressions do you get
of Polyphemus, Scylla, Circe, the dead, the Latins, and Aeneas? How
are those impressions like or unlike the impressions you get of the same
characters in the Aeneid? Why doesn't Ovid, like Virgil, just
tell the story in a more straightforward manner? What is the focus of
the story in Ovid's version? How does that focus differ from Virgil's?
- What do you make of the long sermon of Pythagoras in Book XV?
Is it self-parody by Ovid, or does Pythagoras voice Ovid's own philosophical
beliefs? If the latter, what are those beliefs?
- As he relates legends of the early history of Rome, what does Ovid
seem to value in Roman culture? Ovid focuses on a number of unlikely
heroes (Vertumnus, Myscelus, Hippolytus, Cipus), as well as on other more
conventional figures (Romulus, Numa, Caesar). Which stories are more
interesting or more memorable? What do we learn about Ovid's values
from the heroes he chooses to immortalize? What does the story of
Aesculapius tell us about what Ovid admires in his own people?
|Click here to go to the syllabus.
To e-mail me with a question or problem, click here.