|dc.description.abstract||This thesis explores the interaction between place and poetry in Ovid’s poetic corpus.
Throughout his works, the poet’s repeated depictions of Roman urban space and
monumental architecture confirm the fundamental importance of the city as a source
of inspiration and a place of readership.
Taking into account the strong connection between text and architecture,
encoded within the word monumentum, with its associations with memorialisation
and lasting presence, this thesis questions what Ovid’s poetry can tell us about
Roman architecture and urban space, as he ‘writes up’, reconstructs and
memorialises them in his poetry. Equally, it explores how the Roman architectural
structures depicted by the poet can themselves appear as texts, which shed light on
and help to preserve Ovid’s literature.
In light of recent critical interest in space in ancient literature, this thesis
provides an overview of Ovid’s career arc in spatial terms. It examines the poet’s
changing relationship with, and depiction of, the city of Rome over the course of his
career, as the genre and subject matter of his poetry alters and the location of his
poetic composition changes. After establishing the firm connection between Ovidian
love elegy and the city in the introduction, a different text is considered in each
ensuing chapter. The different monuments and urban spaces depicted in Ovid’s
corpus are analysed in order to consider how and why the poet’s relationship with
the city remains at the forefront of his poetry, raising questions about the purpose of
this poetry, the development of genre, the poet’s interaction with other literature
about Rome, and his relationship with his readers.
Chapter 1 explores how, in the Metamorphoses, the poet’s urban interest, which
was established within elegy, is translated to his new epic and global ambitions. As
he punctuates his poem with monuments which, though mythological, also have
Roman features and similarities, this chapter investigates how Ovid explores on a
cosmic scale the concepts and events memorialised in Augustan architecture, eliding
urbs and orbisin a way which suggests that the foundation of the universe anticipates
the foundation of empire.
Chapter 2 discusses how, in the Fasti, the poet explores the relationship
between urban architecture and his own text, as he responds to the Augustan
building project in extended, aetiological elegy. As the poet writes about buildings
and monuments in Rome which are associated with the calendar, constructing his
own version of the city within his text, this chapter examines how Ovid’s Fasti
becomes a text which can be likened to the monuments which it describes. At the
same time, it considers how, as his own text celebrates, and can be compared to,
Roman monuments, the poet negotiates the well-established opposition between
monumental architecture and poetry.
Chapter 3 examines how, in the Tristia, the poet’s relationship with Rome and his
readers there can be sustained when he is no longer physically present. As the poet ‘returns’ to Rome by means of his personified poetry book in Tristia 3.1, visiting
monuments which evoke descriptions from previous texts, this chapter considers
how Rome has become a space which is inscribed with literature including Ovid’s
earlier works, perpetuating his presence in spite of his exile. Although rejected from
these literary monuments of Rome, the book’s pleas to private readers for reception
in their homes leads to questions as to whether the success of a poet’s work is
dependent on the libraries and literary monuments of the city or whether an
alternative readership can be found elsewhere.
Chapter 4 analyses how, in the Epistulae ex Ponto, the poet uses the familiar
monuments and urban landscapes of Rome as a means of persuading his addressee
that his exile must be mitigated. As Ovid writes to Cornelius Severus in Epistulae ex
Ponto 1.8, recalling the peaceful leisurely life in Rome which he once enjoyed, in
contrast with the harsh reality of Tomis, this chapter considers how Ovid adapts his
landscape descriptions specifically to impress and persuade his addressee. It also
questions the effects which Ovid’s new Rome-less existence has on his poetry and
how important an existence in Rome is for poetic production.
Before concluding, one further monument is considered in a final coda. Ovid’s
house of Fama in the Metamorphoses is one of the most frequently discussed
monuments in Ovid’s poetic corpus and its Roman nature has been established,
despite its fictional status and its placement in the Metamorphoses before the
foundation of the city. This final discussion will consider how, in the case of the house
of Fama, as in his other texts, Ovid explores the architectural and textual nature of a
monument. At the same time, as the poet creates an architectural space which
allegorizes the production, circulation and memorialization of texts, it explores how
the poet presents the house of Fama as similar to Rome as a whole, indicating that it
is the city itself, rather than one specific monument, which helps to inspire,
disseminate and preserve literature.
Throughout Ovid’s literature and over the course of his career, Rome is the most
prominent and constant feature. As the poet maps his poetry onto the urban
landscape, imperial Rome becomes an Ovidian space. Yet, ultimately, it is the
existence of Rome which perpetuates the existence of Ovid’s poetry.||en