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Andrew Marvell's Ovidian Consolations

From: Studies in Philology
Volume 110, Number 4, Fall 2013
pp. 851-879 | 10.1353/sip.2013.0034



Although Andrew Marvell's debt to Ovid has been widely acknowledged, the Amores has gone virtually unnoticed in discussions of Marvell's Ovidianism. This article examines the influence of Ovid's funeral elegies (Amores 2.6 and 3.9) on Marvell's three funeral elegies: "An Elegy Upon the Death of My Lord Francis Villiers," "Upon the Death of Lord Hastings," and "A Poem upon the Death of his Late Highness the Lord Protector." Specifically, it examines how Marvell enlists Ovidian irony and wit to comment on the consolatory pretensions of elegy and, more broadly, on the events and politics of the English Civil War and Commonwealth. In the Amores Ovid actively exposes the formal artifice through which tropes of consolation are constructed. Marvell's elegies follow much the same pattern. He is patently concerned with elegy's unique capacity to draw comfort from the experience of mourning and loss, but like Ovid, he also understands that the figurative compensations and traumatic fixations that derive from this experience are not easy to separate.

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