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  • Repeat Performances: Ovidian Repetition and the Metamorphoses ed. by Laurel Fulkerson and Tim Stover
Laurel Fulkerson and Tim Stover (eds.). Repeat Performances: Ovidian Repetition and the Metamorphoses. Wisconsin Studies in Classics. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2016. Pp. vii, 328. $75.00. ISBN 978-0-299-30750-9.

This edited volume, consisting of an introduction and ten chapters by different authors, examines repetition as an intrinsic element of Ovidian poetics. Acknowledging the importance of repetition throughout Greek and Latin literature, especially epic, Repeat Performances emphasizes its unusually pervasive presence in the Metamorphoses.

Andrew Feldherr discusses repetition in the Phaethon episode. He suggests that by repeating earlier works, the ekphrasis of the Sun's palace reflects an ambiguous relation between the narrative and the cosmos. Feldherr illuminates the relation of image to reality in the representation of the marine divinities and in repeated images of circularity by the Sun and heavenly bodies, in contrast to the linearity associated with Phaethon. [End Page 150]

Barbara Boyd discusses Ovid's repetition of Homer's tale of Aphrodite and Ares. She elucidates the cynical purpose of motifs in Ars Amatoria 2, such as the laughter directed against Vulcan versus the shame incurred by the adulterers in Homer. Boyd connects repeated motifs in Metamorphoses 4, such as Vulcan's skill and the gods' laughter, to entertainment value for the narrator Leuconoe and to the fate of the Minyeides, entrapped by vines transforming their webs.

Peter Heslin argues that Ovid exposes Homer's concealment of Achilles' invulnerability in the Cycnus episode. After discussing narrative bias with Nestor's omission of Hercules in the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs, he examines Achilles' lack of response to Cycnus' invulnerability. Heslin counters Agenor's assertion in Iliad 21 of Achilles' vulnerability by suggesting, for instance, the warrior's restricted view. Heslin's argument about Homer is highly speculative, given the lack of evidence for Achilles' invulnerability before the Hellenistic period. But his view that Ovid rejects Achilles' vulnerability to undermine Homer's credibility is intriguing.

Antony Augoustakis examines Ovid's story of Hecuba vis-à-vis Euripides, Nicander, and Vergil, emphasizing her portrayal as a bereft mother whose focus is on burial and tombs. He subtly discusses repetition of language, for instance, the verb haurio, employed to describe Hecuba's removal of Hector's remains and her gouging of Polymestor's eye sockets. For Augoustakis, Hecuba's blinding of Polymestor, prefacing Ovid's Little Aeneid, substitutes for Aeneas' killing of Turnus.

Darcy Krasne discusses allusions to succession. She connects Polyhymnia's story of the birth of Maiestas in Fasti 5 to the cosmology of Metamorphoses 1, and Flora's story of the birth of Mars to Typhoeus' in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. Krasne cogently links succession to Augustus through his birth sign Capricorn/Cornucopia and Jupiter's overthrow of Saturn, and through the princeps' status as pater patriae in Fasti 2 along with Mars, through whom succession passes. Krasne's essay sometimes weaves confusedly in and out of the Fasti and Metamorphoses, but the content is insightful.

Sharon James examines rape stories in the Metamorphoses. James usefully categorizes four types of rapes. Her discussion of specific examples necessarily treads familiar critical ground. She notes that Ovid includes Roman foundational rape stories (Rhea Silvia, the Sabines, and Lucretia) in the Fasti, but not in the Metamorphoses, and excludes the story of Verginia altogether. James suggests that Ovid substituted Philomela for Verginia, which in its stark "reality" precluded any fantastic metamorphosis, and observes that the absence of important foundational myths for the Roman Republic would not have escaped the notice of Augustan Roman readers.

Peter Knox discusses the revisionary function of myths repeated from Ovid's earlier works in the exile poetry. A highlight is Knox's analysis of Ovid's use of Althaea, who in Metamorphoses 8 obliterates the creative act in ending Meleager's life and in the Tristia is an analogue for the poet, through a repetition of the key word viscera, here applied to the Metamorphoses that Ovid had thrown onto the pyre. Knox finds implied criticism of Augustus through repetitions in the Tristia of the epilogue to the Metamorphoses and of Actaeon as an analogue for the poet.

The last three chapters deal with the reception of Ovid. Examining Flavian epic, Alison Keith reveals how Valerius Flaccus cleverly frustrates the expectation with Hercules and Hesione of the erotic underpinning in Metamorphoses [End Page 151] 11, but later assimilates Hecate's grove to Proserpina's rape scene in Metamorphoses 5. Highlighting Statius' ekphrasis of a bowl in Adrastus' palace, she discusses Psamathe, metaphorically emerging from Hades as Poine to exact revenge on her folk, in relation to Ovid's Medusa. Keith also illuminates Silius Italicus' incorporation of Daedalus and Icarus, interweaving Ovidian myth in a Vergilian narrative with complex implications about the artist and narrative.

Neil Bernstein approaches Silius' reception of Ovid by analysis of repeated diction through Tesserae, a search program identifying matches of two-lexeme phrases of Greek and Latin texts. Sections on quantitative and qualitative analysis are included. Bernstein provides a sample analysis of Silius' account of the famine at Saguntum, with tables indicating Tesserae's scores rating each result. Narrowing down the results for interpretive importance yields a significant allusion by Silius to Pythagoras' accusation of cannibalism in Metamorphoses 15.

Stephen Hinds illuminates Claudian's repetition of Ovid in the De Raptu Proserpinae. Hinds disputes editorial substitutions of Etna for Enna in Claudian's text. He shows that key phrases, such as haud procul inde alluding to Metamorphoses 5 and planities echoing Verrine 4, signal the scene of the rape as Enna. Hinds observes that Claudian incorporates the lilies and violets of Metamorphoses 5 and also the narcissus, which evokes the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and Ovid's myth of Narcissus, with implications of violence and loss and of mediation between worlds.

Classicists, Renaissance scholars, and advanced students with an interest in the dynamics of literary genesis, especially epic, should find Repeat Performances an informative and valuable resource.

Barbara Pavlock
Lehigh University

Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9234
Print ISSN
0009-8418
Pages
150-152
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-06
Open Access
No
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