BOOK Details

Shakespeare's Ovid

The Metamorphoses in the Plays and Poems

‘This book provides a comprehensive examination of his use of Ovid’s poem with contributions from leading international scholars.

Chapter 3, Pauline Kiernan's "Venus and Adonis and Ovidian indecorous wit", explores the intertwining of characterization and poetics in the Shakespearean poem. The chaste boy Adonis and Venus, the divine femme fatale, are shown to embody decorous and indecorous eroticism respectively, which Kiernan respectively traces to Virgil (esp. his depiction of Lavinia) and Ovid (Corinna). An ensuing section successfully probes the (in)stability of the notion of decorum, both erotic and rhetorical, in an acute analysis of Venus' vain attempts to win over the object of her desire, in language "just this side of the ridiculous". Ovid's Polyphemus in his pursuit of Galatea stands in for an apt, if irreverent comparison.

Bryn Mawr, Classical Review

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