Contrast as Narrative Technique in Ovid's Metamorphoses

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This is the first study which attempts a thorough analysis of the definition, nature, scope, functions and effects of the contrasts which Ovid employs. The study examines six stories from the Metamorphoses for all types of contrast, ranging from occasional and immediate, rhetorical figures to farther-reaching contrasts of them, character, tone, and style. Spencer examines intertextual contrast, which are oriented toward the poet's sources, and intratextual contrasts. It is the most thorough analysis available of how Ovid uses contrast on many levels and for a wide range of effects.


"Do not be deceived by the elegant simplicity of this book's thesis and organizing principle; Richard Albert Spencer has written an exceptionally sensitive and perceptive work that combines quiet erudition with unassuming eloquence to analyze and discuss a wide of array of literary issues pertaining to one of classical antiquity's most complex texts: Ovid's Metamorphoses. Because Spencer treats a well-chosen and representative selection of myths, the reader enjoys, as it were, a highly instructive guided tour of the Metamorphoses. . . . Because he writes so clearly and engagingly, because Spencer presents the arguments of his predecessors before engaging in dialogue with them, the reader receives many a painlessly instructive lesson in the history of Ovidian scholarship. The reader has a clear idea of where Spencer stands and the significance of his work to the ongoing scholarly discussion." - Hans-Friedrich Mueller

"It is common form for critics to dwell on Ovid's ironic stance toward his poetic models and predecessors, but Spencer does more by contributing helpfully and clear-headedly to the analysis of that ironic stance. The strengths of his study, in my view, are its clear, intelligent organization and method, its comprehensive command of Ovidian scholarship both classic and recent, and its pervasive (and engaging) respect for its subject: Ovid and the human experiences Ovid was trying to catalogue in his protean epic poem. . . . He writes in a welcomely readable style, he has an impressive command of Ovidian studies which he deploys usefully and without ever being tempted either into methodological quarrels or into name-dropping, and he respects his author and makes many new and valuable observations about this major figure of Latin literature." - Peter M. Smith

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