Thursday, March 31, 2016


Philip Hardie, Gioachino Chiarini (ed.), Ovidio: Metamorfosi, Volume VI: Libri XIII-XV. Scrittori greci e latini. Milano: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla; Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 2015. Pp. lxv, 717. ISBN 9788804651628. €30.00.

Reviewed by Bartolo A. Natoli, Randolph-Macon College (

Version at BMCR home site

Ovidio: Metamorfosi, Volume VI (Libri XIII-XV) is the sixth and final installment of a the multi-authored commentary on the Metamorphoses edited by Alessandro Barchiesi and published by the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla. The project produced its first volume in 2005, with subsequent volumes being published every two years or so. All of the individuals involved in this project (the aforementioned Barchiesi, Gianpiero Rosati, E.J. Kenney, J.D. Reed, and Philip Hardie) are world-renowned scholars of Ovidian and Latin literature, and their work on the project has resulted in the creation of a collection of top-flight volumes that demonstrate the immense knowledge and experience of their authors.1

This particular volume is a text, translation, and commentary of Metamorphoses XIII-XV, a portion of Ovid's magnum opus that has received surprisingly little scholarly attention in comparison with the first ten books of the epic. The text and commentary have been prepared by Philip Hardie and are accompanied by an excellent Italian translation by Gioachino Chiarini. This review will examine these three portions of the volume in turn, beginning with the Latin text itself.

Hardie's text is based on Tarrant's 2004 OCT, but makes a number of changes (54 in total across the three Ovidian books) ranging from the minute to the major, all of which are listed on pp. lix-lxi. The text itself is quite clean with an attractive and legible font. At the bottom of each page of text is the complete apparatus of Tarrant (the sigla of the extensive Ovidian manuscript tradition are given on pp. 3-5), and facing each page of text are the corresponding lines of Chiarini's Italian translation. In all these respects, Hardie's volume resembles a standard critical text; however, one minor oddity stands out that is not indicative of Hardie as much as is typical of the Lorenzo Valla editions. As a means to alert readers to important commentary while they are reading the text, the series has included the symbol < in the right margin of the translation on each line about which "note indispensabili alla comprensione del testo" have been made (212). Although the symbol is a useful tool, the presence of multiple such symbols in a page's margin is, at times, distracting.

Hardie's text is accompanied by a wonderful Italian translation by Chiarini, who also penned the translations for Volumes III-IV. As with his work in the other volumes, Chiarini's translation here is as expressive as the Ovidian original, while maintaining the basic thematic progression and—generally—following the line numbers of the Latin. Chiarini's rendering of the famous sphragis of the Metamorphoses is emblematic of his style:

Ho ormai compiuto un'opera, che non potranno cancellare
né l'ira di Giove, né il fuoco, né il ferro, né il tempo divoratore.
Quando vorrà, quel giorno che ha potere solo su questo corpo,
ponga pure fine alla durata – che io ignoro – della mia vita:
la parte migliore di me mi trasporterà più in alto
delle stelle, e il mio nome resterà indelebile.
E dovunque si estende la potenza romana sulle terre domate,
sarò letto dalla gente, e per tutti i secoli, grazie alla fama,
se c'è qualcosa di vero nelle profezie dei poeti, vivrò.

However, as strong as the text and translation are, Hardie's lengthy commentary (415 pgs) is by far the star of this volume. It fills a gaping hole in the scholarship on the final books of the Metamorphoses, providing a full and cohesive commentary on Ovid's ultimate triad missing from W.S. Anderson's commentaries on Books I-V and VI-X.2 Moreover, unlike previous single-book commentaries on Books XIII-XV, whose focus is more on grammatical and cultural issues, Hardie's discussion centers on the aesthetic and intertextual.

A prime example of Hardie's technique comes from his notes on the beginning of Ovid's 'Aeneid' (XIII.623-XIV.608). The lines under review are as follows:

Non tamen eversam Troiae cum moenibus esse
spem quoque fata sinunt; sacra et, sacra altera, patrem
fert umeris, venerabile onus, Cythereius heros…
(M. XIII.623-625)

Hardie's commentary on these important lines emphasizes the intertextual relationship between Vergil and Ovid, as well as the poetics of the passage that add depth to that relationship:

623-625: Non tamen . . . heros: una sillessi (senso concreto e senso astratto di eversam) incapsula con eleganza lo schema essenziale di Aen. II: distruzione della vecchia città (Troiae . . . moenibus forma un anello con la prima citazione di novae . . . moenia Troiae a XI 199) insieme all'emergere di una speranza nel futuro, incarnata nell'icona augustea del pius Aeneas che si carica il fardello (onus: Aen. II 723, 729) di Anchise, che a sua volta trasporta i sacri oggetti di Troia, il gruppo di famiglia visto alla fine di Aen. II e, in forma scultorea, nel Foro di Augusto (Fasti V 563; sulla tradizione nelle arti visive ved. Austin 1964, ad Aen. II 708; Fuchs 1973). Troiae si presenta nella stessa sede metrica del primo verso dell'Eneide, fata quasi nella stessa sede di fato nel secondo verso. non tamen: per questa transizione cfr. VII 453 nec tamen. Il contrasto riguarda l'Iliupersis dei vv. 408-21, ma anche quello fra i destini di due figli di madri divine, Memnon ed Enea. sacra . . . patrem: i due oggetti della pietas di Enea, dèi e famiglia, espressi attraverso la ripetizione di sacra. Ovidio ripete la fraseologia in Fasti I 527-8; IV 37-8; cfr. Met. VII 156-157 spolioque superbus / muneris auctorem secum, spolia altera, portans. venerabile: si deve rispetto sia alla vecchiaia sia al sacro. La vicinanza di Cythereius heros allude al nesso etimologico di veneror e Venus. Cythereius heros: Venere, madre dell'eroe, era nata a Citera. La frase introduce Enea, e viene ripetuta nell'ultimo episodio dell'Eneide ovidiana, non a caso nel contesto di una preghiera della dea a favore di suo figlio Enea (XIV 584; anche in Fasti III 611).

As can be seen from this excerpt, the overwhelming emphasis of Hardie's commentary is on the intertextual relationship between the dueling Aeneids of Vergil and Ovid. To make his case, Hardie explores similarities in aesthetics: thematic repetition, specific vocabulary, and metrical similarity. He omits the more basic questions of grammar and syntax found in other commentaries, a move that makes Hardie's discussion of limited use to non-specialists. On the other hand, the plethora of intertexts explored by the commentary presents graduate students and professional classicists with a veritable goldmine of information with which to conduct research.

Overall, the text, translation, and commentary of this most recent and final installment of the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla's project on Ovid's Metamorphoses constitutes a fitting conclusion to a valuable resource for Ovidian scholars. Hardie's clear text and Chiarini's lucid and expressive translation provide a strong foundation for the volume. However, it is Hardie's extraordinary commentary with its focus on Ovidian aesthetics and intertexts that makes this volume a must-have in the collection of anyone serious about Ovidian studies. One can only hope that the Fondazione Lorenzo Valla will build on this major success and will turn to other classical works that are currently lacking major commentaries.


1.   BMCR has reviews for each of the individual volumes in the project except Volume 5 available online. Volume I (Books 1-2) was edited by Barchiesi (BMCR 2006.07.38). Volume II (Books 3-4) was edited by both Barchiesi and Rosati (BMCR 2007.10.55). Volume III (Books 5-6) was edited by Rosati (BMCR 2010.07.33). Volume IV (Books 7-9) was edited by Kenney (BMCR 2012.03.59). Volume V (Books 10-12) was edited by Reed.
2.   Other single book commentaries exist on these books. Cf. the 'green and yellows' of Hopkinson (2001) and Myers (2009) on Books XIII and XIV, respectively; Hill (2000) (BMCR 2002.02.07) provides a commentary on XIII-XV aimed at undergraduate students.

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