Forbidden Love: Myrrha and Ovid’s Intertextuality

Amanda Jorgensen

This paper will contribute to the scholarly investigation of the intertextual relationship between Vergil and Ovid by examining the allusions Ovid’s Metamorphoses makes to Vergil’s Aeneid in the story of Myrrha (Metamorphoses 10.298-502).  Several scholars (Putman, Nagle, Dyson) have noticed that Myrrha’s depiction in the Metamorphoses alludes to themes in Vergil’s Aeneid. Although they agree that Ovid consciously is connecting this story with the Aeneid through epic themes, there is disagreement about the purpose of Ovid’s communication.

This paper will consider elements in the text that connect Myrrha’s story to themes in Vergil’s epic to explore why Ovid uses Vergil’s aesthetic to enhance this episode.  Myrrha’s unnatural desire for her father creates a background in which Ovid can manipulate Vergil’s epic techniques through parallel religious invocations, placement of the story in nature, perversion of pietas, exile/odyssey, and the juxtaposition of characters using language. One example of Ovid’s manipulation is Cinyras’ application of the term pia to Myrrha and her prayer to pietas, both of which invite the reader to reconsider the relationship between Anchises and Aeneas in the Aeneid. Although pietas in the Aeneid represents the solemn relationship between father and child, in Ovid’s application pietas is the barrier between Myrrha and the actualization of her desire for her father. Using other examples my conclusion will argue that Ovid attempted through Vergilian allusion and inversion to add resonance to his own epic poem and to consciously remake the genre of epic.


Back to the Meeting Program

[Home] [ About] [Awards and Scholarships] [Classical Journal] [Committees & Officers]
[Contacts & Email Directory
] [Links] [Meetings] [Membership] [News]