Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Version at BMCR home site
Peter E. Knox (ed.), A Companion to Ovid. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Chichester/Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Pp. xviii, 534. ISBN 9781405141833. $199.95.
Reviewed by Antonio Ramírez de Verger, Universidad de Huelva

[Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.]


It is seven years since the appearance of two Companions to Ovid (Barbara Weiden Boyd, ed., Brill's Companion to Ovid, Leiden: Brill, 2002 [cf. R. Gibson, BMCR 2003.01.34] and Philip Hardie, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Ovid, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002 [cf. J. Farrell, BMCR 2004.12.21]. In addition, Peter E. Knox, editor of the present Companion, was responsible for the Oxford Readings in Ovid (Oxford: Oxford University Press,2006 [cf. G. C. Lacki, BMCR 2007.09.19]). Was another Companion to Ovid really called for? It is always useful to be able to consult surveys with such distinguished contributors as those who appear in this elaborate volume. Moreover, publishing houses are anxious to boast reference volumes such as this in their catalogues, works that are targeted not only at students and scholars whose first language is English, but also at all those students and scholars who have English as a second or third language, even if their first is German, Spanish, French, or Italian. (I find it shocking, however, when globalization is a reality in all spheres, that publishers are not looking to a global audience but only the English-speaking world.)

If the Companion to Ovid is aimed at "newcomers to Ovid's works, be they students or scholars" (p. xiv), then the reader must expect direct and simple information from it on who Ovid was, what Ovid wrote, where and when he wrote it, and how he wrote it. To these five questions should be added, to paint an even clearer picture, from which sources he drank and how his work has come down to us both directly (manuscripts and editions) and indirectly (influences and translations). All of this can be found dealt with briefly in a good manual of Latin literature (cf., e.g., M. von Albrecht, A History of Roman Literature, Leiden: Brill, 1997, 1.786-823), but a Companion is obviously something more than a summary, as is demonstrated in this volume.

On the question of who Ovid was we are informed by Knox in a very short biography (pp. 3-7). Peter White's chapter in Brill's Companion, "Ovid and the Augustan Milieu" (pp. 1-24), is, in my view, the most complete account in the different Companions mentioned above. In addition, a reading of Ovid's autobiography (Trist. 4.10) ought to be an indispensable element as a primary source in any biography of the poet (cf. J. Fairweather, CQ 37 (1987) 181-196).

The question of which works were written by the poet from Sulmo is dealt with in chapters 4-15 (see Table of Contents below). Some chapters are descriptive and illuminating (Gibson on Ars amatoria, Herbert-Brown on Fasti, Kenney on Metamorphoses, Helzle on Ibis, Knox on Lost and Spurious Works); others are excessively theoretical (Booth on Amores, Boyd on Remedia Amoris, Claassen on Tristia, Galasso on Epistulae ex Ponto).

Mario Citroni (pp. 8-25) is responsible for situating Ovid in the context of Augustan Rome, which was witnessing the development of "a new canon of works" (a process that had begun with Catullus and the neoterics) that aimed "to represent the cultural patrimony of a nation," with the support of Augustus throughout. Elaine Fantham (pp. 26-44) studies, with clarity and examples, "the art of composition," that is, the art of rhetoric in Ovid's work as a whole. The first part closes with a brief survey of Ovid's use of religion (Julia Dyson Heyduk, pp. 45-58), with examples from the amatory poems, the Metamorphoses, the Fasti, and the exile poetry.

Ovid's literary sources are specified in Part III (pp. 217-307). Lightfoot helps us towards a better understanding of "the contribution of Hellenistic poetry to the tone, ethos, and sensibility of Ovid's work". Acosta-Hughes compares the Acontius and Cydippe episode of Aetia 3 with Heroides 20-21 to show us how Ovid rewrote Callimachus in his work, converting, for example, the silent Cydippe of the Alexandrian poet into a woman with her own voice, even if that "voice" was manifested in her expressive silence. Wray analyses the influence of Catullus and also of the neoterics (Cinna, Caecilius, L. Calvus) as Ovid's predecessors, especially in the composition of epyllia, which are so frequent in Fasti and Metamorphoses. Heyworth has the remit of comparing Ovid and Propertius and Maltby does likewise with Tibullus and Ovid, comparing Trist. 2.445-68 with Tib. 1.6, while Thomas recognizes the presence of Virgil in Ovid, in whose epic the poet from Sulmo "has repainted the Virgilian canvas, whose palimpsest keeps emerging with varying effects on the mind of the reader" (p. 306).

In Part IV (pp. 309-393) I find it surprising that there should be two chapters devoted to the editions and commentaries of Ovid's oeuvre (Possanza and Knox) alongside four very theoretical chapters (Casali, Keith, Farrell, and Spentzou). The pages given over to the first two areas reflect the pitiful status of Latin studies at present. More than two thousand years of editorial technique and exegesis of Ovid's works are dispatched in some 40 pages, while theoretical discussions on Ovid are given around 50 pages in this part alone, while in the rest of the volume there is theorizing to be found anywhere and everywhere (e.g., Booth, "Erotic Story and (Meta)poetic Statement," pp. 72-76; contributions by Fulkerson, pp. 78-88, Boyd, pp. 104-118, Williams, pp. 154-169, Claassen, pp. 170-174). For the theoretical approaches to the work of Ovid in Part IV I feel some respect, but I continue to share David West's much maligned attack on studies of this kind (Cast Out Theory: Horace Odes 1.4 and 4.7, Classical Association Presidential Address, London: Classical Association,1995, pp. 15-17; cf. D. Fowler, "On the Shoulders of Giants: Intertextuality and Classical Studies," MD 39 (1997)13-34). My mind is no doubt too stubborn and slow to understand the ins and outs of modern theory as applied to classical texts. It may all be true but, however much I strive to understand these theoretical analyses that are so much in vogue, I have no idea where sentences like the following lead: "This Ovidian technique-ironic prefiguring realized through intertextual anticipation, when a character who lives in a precise moment of the model-text 'unintentionally' foretells his/her own future or others' by using words destined to appear in the continuation of the model-texts-finds prominent application in the Heroides" (Casali, p. 346). I stop to reflect, and after rereading what comes before and after the cited text, I deduce that what happens in the Heroides is that Ovid has turned some epic characters into elegiac ("transcoding their story from one genre to another, elegy"). A lot of baggage for such a short journey, as the Spanish saying goes. But pay no attention to the scepticism of a reader such as I, whose only aim is to "read and hear and observe and think and feel" (West, p. 17).

The chapters on the reception of Ovid (pp. 397-468) limit themselves to literature in English - antiquity and the Middle Ages aside, of course - although Ziolkowski opens out the field much more to other literatures and fine arts (one should also read his excellent monograph Ovid and the Moderns, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). For a fuller view of the reception of Ovid there is no alternative but to turn to other monographs, such as: R. Schevill, Ovid and the Renascence in Spain, Hildesheim, 1971 (= Berkeley, 1913); W. Stroh, Ovid im Urteil der Nachwelt. Eine Testimoniensammlung, Darmstadt, 1969; W. S. Anderson, Ovid: The Classical Heritage, New York-London, 1995.

The last chapter is devoted to translations of Ovid into English. But what about translations into other modern languages? For versions in Spanish, read "Ovidio" in Diccionario Histórico de la Traducción en España (DHTE), ed. Francisco Lafarga y Luis Pegenaute, Madrid, Gredos (forthcoming); see also M. Menéndez Pelayo, Bibliografía Hispano-Latina Clásica, Santander, 1950-53, 7.181-333.

I go on to offer a few of the marginal notes I have made in the course of my reading of this useful but uneven volume:

Pp. 47 and 58 (Dyson): Instead of reading Pieridum uates, non tua, turba sumus it is possible to keep Pieridum uates, non tua turba sumus, as do Heinsius, Goold, and the present reviewer (ed. Teubneriana, 2006, 2nd ed., p. 3). Also, at the bottom of page 58, read 'neophyte' instead of 'neophgte.'

P. 65 (Booth): I can see no evidence of "Victorian reticence" in Rivero García's interpretation as set out in his study of Am. 2.15.25-26 in Hermes 132 (2004) 201-203, esp. 203.

P. 79 (Fulkerson): On the division of Heroides "into three groups of five, with the six double letters as Book 4," read M. Pulbrook, "The original published form of Ovid's Heroides?," Hermathena 122 (1977) 29-45.

Pp. 88-89 (Fulkerson) and 211-212 (Knox): On the authorship of The Letter of Sappho to Phaon the Internet has made available (https://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/2315) the PhD dissertation by Thea Selliaas Thorsen, Scribentis Imagines in Ovidian Authorship and Scholarship. A Study of the Epistula Sapphus (Heroides 15), diss. Bergen, 2006. Cf. A. Ramírez de Verger, "La carta de Safo a Faón de Ovidio (Her. XV)," Emerita (forthcoming). To "Further Reading" (p. 89) should be added the commentaries by Beck (Her. 18-19, Padeborn, 1996), Michalopoulos (Ovid's Heroides 4 and 8. A Commentary with introduction, diss. Leeds, 2006), Piazzi (Her. 7, Firenze, 2007), and Pestelli (Her. 8, Firenze, 2007).

P. 99 (Gibson): On Philaenis read also M. Cruz Ingelmo-E. Montero, "Filénide en la literatura greco-latina," Euphrosyne 18(1990) 65-74.

Pp. 107-108 (Boyd): It should at least be pointed out in connection with the digression in defence of his work (ll. 361-396) that in a considerable number of manuscripts and in all of the editiones veteres down to N. Heinsius (Amstelodami, 1652, I, p. 223; 1661, I, p. 274) Remedia Amoris appeared split into two books (I 1-396 and II 397-814), with the final lines of "Book I" (361-396) constituting an apologetic programmatic ending, while the opening of "Book II" returns to Ovid's warnings regarding copulation. The question merits more detailed study. Read the Oxford (19952, p. 242) and Teubner (20062, p. 285) editions and the commentaries by Geisler (Berlin, 1969, pp. 54-55), Lucke (1982, pp. 39-40), Lazzarini (Venezia, 1986, p. 151), and Pinotti (Bologna, 1988, p. 208).

P. 128 (Herbert-Brown): The variant calida for gelida was introduced by N. Heinsius (1661, III, pp. 76 [text] and 130 [notes]) and accepted, for example, by Goold (Loeb, 19962, p. 198). Alton, Wormell, and Courtney signaled their doubts in their Teubner edition with a prudent fort. recte in the apparatus criticus (19974, p. 88).

P. 165 (Williams): It seems to be going too far to see in some of the stories of the Metamorphoses "notable examples of Ovid's broader preoccupation [...] with the persecution of artists." Arachne was punished for her pride, like Niobe, for instance, as she dared to consider herself superior to the gods themselves (the sin of hybris).

P. 193 (Helzle): To "Further Reading" add R. Guarino, Los Comentarios al Ibis de Ovidio, Peter Lang, 1999 and El Ibis de Ovidio, Murcia, 2000.

P. 211 (Knox): The statement that the Epistula Sapphus "was transmitted in a medieval tradition separate from the rest of the Heroides" should be qualified, as some lines have come down in the company of material from other poems in the collection through florilegia of the 12th-14th centuries: Atrebaticus BC 64, Escorialensis Q I 14, Parisinus BN 7647, BN 11867, BN 15155, BN 17903, whose models go back to the Carolingian period. For example, the Parisinus BN 17903, which contains excerpts from Tibullus and Ovid, transmits six lines of the ES (31-34, 195-196), curiously among the excerpta from Heroides XIV and XVI. To these should be added the Córdoba florilegium, Archivo Capitular 150, recently studied by Beatriz Fernández de la Cuesta (En la senda del Florilegium Gallicum. Edición y estudio del florilegio del manuscrito Córdoba, Archivo Capitular 150, Louvain-La-Neuve, 2008). In it are preserved lines 59, 60, 72, 83, 176 and 196 of the ES, also located after letter XIV and before letter XVI.

P. 216 (Knox): To the bibliography recommended in "Further Reading" could be added a number of important titles, such as the following: a) Editions and commentaries: C. Ganzenmüller, Die Elegie Nux und ihr Verfasser, Tübingen, 1910; S. Wartena, Nux elegia, Groningae, 1928; A. Witlox, Consolatio ad Liviam, Traiecti ad Mosam (Maastricht), 1934; G. Baligan, Appendix Ovidiana, Bari, 1955; F. Capponi, P. Ovidii Nasonis Halieuticon, Leiden, 1972, I-II; M. Pulbrook, Ovid: Nux, Maynooth, 1985; H. Schoonhoven, The Pseudo-Ovidian Ad Liviam de morte Drusi, Groningen, 1992; T. González Rolán-P. Saquero, Consolatio ad Liviam, Madrid, 1993; b) Articles: J. Richmond, "Doubtful Works Ascribed to Ovid," ANRW II 31.4, 1981, 2744-83; G. D. Marioni, "In margine ad alcune recenti pubblicazioni sulla Consolatio ad Liviam," BStudLat 31 (2001) 161-178.

P. 278 (Heyworth): For Spanish-speakers it would not have been unreasonable to cite the study by A. Álvarez, La poética de Propercio (Autobiografía artística del 'Calímaco romano'), Assisi, 1997.

Pp. 311-340 (Possanza and Knox): a list of manuscripts, editions and commentaries of the work of Ovid can be found at http://www.uhu.es/proyectovidio/esp/index.html. Read also N. E. Lemaire, "Index editionum Publii Ovidii Nasonis," in Publius Ovidius Naso, Parisiis, 1824, 8.383-479; F. Peeters, Les "Fastes" d'Ovide, Histoire du texte, Bruxelles, 1939.

Table of Contents

List of Figures (viii)
Notes on Contributors (ix-xiii)
Preface (xiv)
List of Abbreviations (xv-xvi)
Chronological Table of Important Events in Roman History and Literature during the
Life of Ovid (xvii-xviii)

Part I Contexts

1. A Poet's Life, Peter E. Knox (3-7)
2. Poetry in Augustan Rome, Mario Citroni (8-25)
3. Rhetoric and Ovid's Poetry, Elaine Fantham (26-44)
4. Ovid and Religion, Julia Dyson Heyduk (45-58)

Part II Texts

5. The Amores: Ovid making Love, Joan Booth (61-77)
6. The Heroides: Female Elegy?, Laurel Fulkerson (78-89)
7. The Ars amatoria, Roy K. Gibson (90-103)
8. Remedia Amoris, Barbara Weiden Boyd (104-119)
9. Fasti: the Poet, the Prince, and the Plebs, Geraldine Herbert-Brown (120-139)
10. The Metamorphoses: A Poet's Poem, E. J. Kenney (140-153)
11. The Metamorphoses: Politics and Narrative, Gareth D. Williams (154-169)
12. Tristia, Jo-Marie Claassen (170-183)
13. Ibis, Martin Helzle (185-193)
14. Epistulae ex Ponto, Luigi Galasso (194-206)
15. Lost and Spurious Works, Peter E. Knox (207-216)

Part III Intertexts

16. Ovid and Hellenistic Poetry, Jane L. Lightfoot (219-235)
17. Ovid and Callimachus: Rewriting the Master, Benjamin Acosta Hughes (236-251)
18. Ovid's Catullus and the Neoteric Moment in Roman Poetry, David Wray (252-264)
19. Propertius and Ovid, S. J. Heyworth (265-278)
20. Tibullus and Ovid, Robert Maltby (279-293)
21. Ovid's Reception of Virgil, Richard F. Thomas (294-307)

Part IV Critical and Scholarly Approaches

22. Editing Ovid: Immortal Works and Material Texts, Mark Possanza (311-326)
23. Commenting on Ovid, Peter E. Knox (326-340)
24. Ovidian Intertextuality, Sergio Casali (341-354)
25. Sexuality and Gender, Alison Keith (355-369)
26. Ovid's Generic Transformation, Joseph Farrell (370-380)
27. Theorizing Ovid, Efrossini Spentzou (381-393)

Part V Literary Receptions

28. Ovidian Strategies in Early Imperial literature, Charles McNelis (397-410)
29. The Medieval Ovid, John M. Fyler (411-422)
30. Ovid in Renaissance English Literature, Heather James (423-441)
31. Ovid and Shakespeare, Gordon Braden (442-454)
32. Ovid in the Twentieth Century, Theodore Ziolkowski (455-468)
33. Translating Ovid, Chistopher Martin (469-484)

Bibliography (485-515)

Index (516-534)


1.This review has been translated from the Spanish by J. J. Zoltowski. Thanks are due to the Spanish MEC (FFI2008-01843) and the Junta de AndalucĂ­a (P09-HUM-04534) for their financial support.

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