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Ovid's ‘Hecale’: Deconstructing Athens in the Metamorphoses

  • Ingo Gildenhard (a1) and Andrew Zissos (a2)


Scholars have long recognized a cultural tension inherent in the scheme of Ovid's Metamorphoses: while most of the materia of the epic is Greek, Rome is its triumphant narrative telos. The epic's Hellenic underpinnings have received abundant critical attention; rather less well documented and discussed is the subtle undercurrent of Romanitas that sustains Ovid's overarching cultural teleology throughout the poem. This Roman ‘cultural vector’ registers in all phases of the narrative, but nowhere more insistently than in the first two books: it is there that the poet brings the overall temporal and spatial thrust of his literary project — namely, to spin down a carmen from universal creation to contemporary Augustan times (‘ad mea … tempora’, 1.4) — most forcefully to the mind of his reader.


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1 See e.g. Fränkel, H., Ovid. A Poet Between Two Worlds (1945), whose suggestive title could also be made to refer to the poet's cultural schizophrenia; von Albrecht, M., ‘Mythos und römische Realität in Ovids Metamorphosen’, ANRW 2.31.4 (1981), 2328–42.

2 Ovid's overt ‘Roman touches’ have of course been noticed and commented upon: see, e.g., Solodow, J. B., The World of Ovid's Metamorphoses (1988), 7489; Wheeler, S. M., A Discourse of Wonders. Audience and Performance in Ovid's Metamorphoses (1999), 194205. Nevertheless, the cumulative, strategic force of these gestures is still generally discounted: cf. most recently the remarks by Perutelli, A. in his Introduction to G. Paduano (ed.), Ovidio Opere II. Le metamorfosi (2000), xii: ‘Quella intrapresa da Ovidio è la storia del mondo, disposta in ordine dall'inizio fino ai suoi giorni, una storia poco romana, dove gli eventi di Roma hanno una parte limitata, che coincide anche con quella meno affascinante del poema.’ This amounts to a variant of the well-known, but unpersuasive thesis of Ovid ‘flagging’ when he reached Roman subject matter.

3 Feeney, D. C., ‘Mea tempora: patterning of time in the Metamorphoses>’, in P. Hardie, A. Barchiesi and S. Hinds (eds), Ovidian Transformations: Essays on Ovid's Metamorphoses and its Reception (1999), 1330, at 27, insightfully addresses the purpose of these gestures in the larger scheme of the poem. Though in the end we shall suggest a somewhat different reading, we owe much to his probing analysis of the temporal ordering of the Metamorphoses.

4 The Roman teleology is advertised by the mention of triumphal processions and the residence of Augustus at 1.558–60, as well as the anticipatory reference to ‘nuribus … Latinis’ at 2.365. Roman political realities are signalled most obviously in the concilium deorum at 1.163–252 (e.g. 172 ‘atria nobilium valvis celebrantur apertis’; 176 ‘Palatia caeli’; 201–8). The most striking anticipation of the poem's Roman end occurs in the Ocyrhoe episode (2.633–75), where Ovid momentarily ‘collapses’ the strict temporal divide between the narrative present and the Roman episodes of Book 15: see I. Gildenhard and Zissos, A., ‘Problems of time in Metamorphoses 2’, in P. Hardie, A. Barchiesi and S. Hinds (eds), Ovidian Transformations: Essays on Ovid's Metamorphoses and its Reception (1999), 3147, at 42–6.

5 The quotations are respectively from Zanker, P., The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (1988), 11; von Albrecht, M., A History of Roman Literature (1996), 108; Vogt-Spira, G., ‘Die Kulturbegegnung Roms mit den Griechen’, in M. Schuster (ed.), Die Begegnung mit dem Fremden. Wertungen und Wirkungen in Hochkulturen vom Altertum bis zur Gegenwart (1996), 1133, at: 12; Feeney, D. C., Literature and Religion at Rome: Cultures, Contexts, and Beliefs (1998), 50; Gruen, E., Studies in Greek Culture and Roman Policy (1990), 1.

6 Wallace-Hadrill, A., ‘Rome's cultural revolution’, JRS 79 (1989), 157–64; T. Habinek and A. Schiesaro (eds), The Roman Cultural Revolution (1997).

7 cf., e.g., the opening sentence of the De Officiis, in which Cicero ascribes summa auctoritas to the city of Athens in the realm of philosophy.

8 Hor., Ep. 2.1.156: ‘Graecia capta ferum uictorem cepit et artes / intulit agresti Latio.’ This bipolar treatment is also famously expressed by Vergil's Anchises at Aen. 6.847–53.

9 Well discussed in S. Hinds, Allusion and Intertext. Dynamics of Appropriation in Roman Poetry (1998), 52–74. Appropriative gestures to the cultural nimbus of classical Athens also feature prominently in the art and architecture of the Augustan Age, though it is often difficult to determine whether the invocation is direct or mediated by Hellenistic or other Greek stages of reception. See Hardie, P., ‘Fifth-century Athenian and Augustan images of the barbarian other’, Classics Ireland 4 (1997), 146–56.

10 Ovid's conceptual treatment of Greece is thus not so much ‘Horatian’ as ‘Ciceronian’. The most pertinent literary precursor for the policy of dispersal and subsumation pursued in the Metamorphoses is the Cicero of the Tusculan Disputations, who calls upon his fellow Romans to follow the practice of their ancestors in ‘ripping out’ the literary and intellectual spoils from a ‘weakening Hellas’ and transferring them to Rome (Tusc. 2.5: ‘Quam ob rem hortor omnis qui facere id possunt, ut huius quoque generis laudem iam languenti Graeciae eripiant et perferant in hanc urbem, sicut reliquas omnis, quae quidem erant expetendae, studio atque industria sua maiores nostri transtulerunt.’).

11 In a subsequent article we hope to explore the political ethnography of the poem, i.e. how Ovid has situated Rome in relation to the civic centres of Athens and Thebes; as well as the complex ways in which he constructs the barbarian other in the Metamorphoses — issues that can only be adumbrated here. For Ovid's treatment of Thebes, Hardie, P., ‘Ovid's Theban history: the first anti-Aeneid?’, CQ 40 (1990), 224–35 remains of fundamental importance.

12 The most detailed examination of these episodes is Keith, A. M., The Play of Fictions: Studies in Ovid's Metamorphoses Book 2 (1992). This paper is, in part, an attempt to build upon her narratological and intertextual study by considering the tales from the perspective of a poetics of culture.

13 Loraux, N., The Children of Athena (1993), 15.

14 Jacoby, F., Atthis. The Local Chronicles of Ancient Athens (1949), 77.

15 OCD (2nd edn) s.v. ‘Atthis’.

16 Thus Hellanicus of Lesbos (c. 480–395 B.C.E.), the first Atthidographer, traced Athenian greatness from the city's foundation to his own times in annalistic fashion by grafting the list of Athens' eponymous archons onto its series of legendary kings. As far as can be determined from the scant surviving fragments, his six successors in the genre — Cleidemus, Androtion, Phanodemus, Demon, Melanthius, and Philochorus — employed similar temporal schemes to celebrate and glorify their polis.

17 Formulations from Leontis, A., Topographies of Hellenism. Mapping the Homeland (1995), 83.

18 Jacoby, op. cit. (n. 14), 84–6 argues that the term Atthis was popularized by Callimachus when he used it as a heading in his catalogue for ‘the diverse body of writing that dealt with Attic lore and topography’; cf. P. E. Harding, Androtion and the Atthis (1994), 2.

19 On the uncertain location of Hecale's deme, see A. Hollis (ed.), Callimachus: Hecale (1990), 7.

20 This identification of the interlocutor was first proposed by Wilamowitz in 1893, and has generally been accepted by subsequent critics. See Hollis, op. cit. (n. 19), 225–6 and 241–2 for a balanced discussion of the issue.

21 This summary follows chronological order, rather than the sequence used by the narrator in the Hecale.

22 In earlier strata of the myth, this may have constituted an attempt by Athena to immortalize Erichthonius.

23 Hollis, op. cit. (n. 19), 8–9, where he further notes that the Hecale is our ultimate source for information on a number of Athenian demes other than that of Hecale.

24 Jacoby, op. cit. (n. 14), 85. Antigonus Carystius called the author 'Αμελησαγόρας ὁ 'Αθηναῖος ὁ τὴν 'Ατθίδα συγγεγραφώς. Cf. Jacoby's comments: ‘this man, who invented a name for himself, invented the title for his book as well, one of those fancy titles which began to become fashionable during the fourth century, a title which was to appear surprisingly new, and archaic at the same time.’ Cf. Hollis, op. cit. (n. 19), 7. The Atthidographer's account of the episode is summarized by Antigonus Carystius (FGH 330), quoted below.

25 Jacoby, op. cit. (n. 14), 603.

26 i.e., either the prophecy was already in Amelesagoras, in which case Callimachus asserts his priority over the Hesiodic tradition; or the prophecy is his own invention, in which case he slyly signals that, while following the Atthidographer, he is aware of his literary tricks.

27 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 9–36 conveniently consolidates the analysis of earlier scholars.

28 The legend is reported at, e.g., Liv. 5.47.4.

29 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), passim.

30 cf. Bömer, F. (ed.), P. Ovidius Naso, Metamorphosen. Wissenschaftliche Kommentare zu lateinischen und griechischen Schriftstellern (1969–86), ad loc.

31 Aen. 8.655–6: ‘atque hic auratis volitans argenteus anser / porticibus Gallos in limine adesse canebat.’ Bömer, op. cit. (n. 30), 372 usefully cites the intriguing remark of Servius on Aen. 8.655: ‘prudenter argenteum anserem dixit, nam quasi et epitheton est coloris et significavit rem veram. nam in Capitolio in honorem illius anseris, qui Gallorum nuntiarat adventus, positus fuerat anser argenteus.’

32 As Buchheit, V., ‘Mythos und Geschichte in Ovids Metamorphoses I’, Hermes 94 (1966), 80106 shows, other ‘forward references’ and Roman allusions in the opening books of the Metamorphoses, as well as their narrative counterparts in Book 15, recall the ideological centre of Vergil's shield, where a primeval confrontation between the forces of order and chaos is depicted on both supernatural and human levels. Of particular relevance is his discussion of how the victories of Jupiter and Apollo over their chthonic enemies in Met. 1 prefigure the rule of the princeps Augustus in Met. 15. Although Buchheit misses the saucy impudence that pervades Ovid's imperialist poetics, his fundamental insights are extremely valuable. For the cosmic imagery and imperialist agenda of the Aeneid, P. Hardie, Virgil's Aeneid. Cosmos and Imperium (1986) remains pre-eminent.

33 Because of the fragmentary survival of the Hecale, it is not always a simple matter to tease out the fundamental thematic differences between the two versions. Recent scholarship has, nevertheless, removed a good deal of the obscurity surrounding the relationship between the two passages: see in particular Hollis, op. cit. (n. 19) and Keith, op. cit. (n. 12).

34 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 15–16.

35 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 19.

36 This would appear to be an Alexandrian footnote on Ovid's part, for in the Hesiodic version the destination is indeed Delphi: Schol. Pind. Pyth. 3.52 (b) = Hes. fr. 60 M-W.

37 Taken in this context, the phrase ‘Actaeo … de vimine’ is indeed pointed, as Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 18 suggests, but perhaps not because it ‘specifies the Athenian setting of the tale’. Rather, the mention of ‘Athenian osier’ supplies a vestigial trace of the rich Athenian cultural and geographical content found in the Callimachean model. It provides an initial faint gesture towards the Callimachean model — indeed, the epithet Actaeo may allude to the opening verse of the Hecale — a gesture that serves to highlight the insistent displacement of markers of Athenian culture and topography. Perhaps it is not too pedantic to note that ‘Athenian osier’ really specifies an (inherently exportable) Attic object, not an Attic setting.

38 This interesting anachronism is discussed below, Section VII.

39 A fragment of the Hecale appears to offer much the same account: ‘… until the time when to the daughters of Cecrops … secret, not to be spoken, and whence his lineage I neither knew nor heard … [but a story reached the] birds, that Gaia bore him to Hephaestus. Then she [i.e., Athena], in order to set up a bulwark for her land, which she had recently acquired by vote of Zeus and the twelve other immortals and by witness of the snake, came to Achaian Pellene. But during that time the girls, his guardians, planned to accomplish a wicked deed, to release [the bonds of] the chest …’ (fr. 70.5–14 Hollis; trans. Keith). These few damaged lines tell us more about the Attic mythological narrative than the entire Ovidian account.

40 cf. the general observation of S. Hinds, ‘Landscape with figures: aesthetics of place in the Metamorphoses and its tradition’, in P. Hardie (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ovid (2002), 122–49, at 136, that ‘landscape in the Metamorphoses is an emphatic invitation to view’ (italics in the original). In contrast to his practice elsewhere, then, Ovid has told this tale in such a way as to suppress any such topographical visualization.

41 Bömer, op. cit. (n. 30), ad loc. and J. J. Moore-Blunt (ed.), A Commentary on Ovid Metamorphoses 2 (1977), 121–2 both note that this Coroneus is otherwise unknown. It seems reasonable to assume that he was at best an obscure figure in Ovid's time and quite possibly an Ovidian invention.

42 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 29.

43 A relief of the contest between Athena and Poseidon occupied a central place on the west pediment of the Parthenon. This crucial mythological episode was thus literally cast in stone at the very religious centre of Athens. Ovid's treatment, by contrast, not only postpones the episode, but ‘inscribes’ it, as it were, upon a flimsy tapestry, woven somewhere in Asia Minor. This, of course, is not to say that the Arachne episode, with its two tapestries, does not play an extraordinarily significant part in the thematic and poetological economy of the Metamorphoses as a whole. For a rich analysis of its metapoetic significance, see Feeney, D. C., The Gods in Epic. Poets and Critics of the Classical Tradition (1991), 190–4.

44 This is perhaps a convenient moment to point out that with his presentation of bird-god interactions in this narrative sequence, Ovid has created an ornithological mirror of the ‘pathology of (Roman) patronage’, with gods and goddesses as patrons and birds as clients. The terminology and imagery of patronage emerges particularly forcefully at 2.547 (‘ad dominum tendebat iter’); 2.552 (‘invenies nocuisse fidem’); 2.562–4 (‘pro quo mihi gratia talis/ redditur, ut dicar tutela pulsa Minervae / et ponar post noctis avem’); and 2.588 (‘data sum comes inculpata Minervae’). At issue throughout is the relationship of characters with low social standing to their powerful ‘friends’, and the attendant problems of reciprocity, loyalty, reward, upward (and downward) mobility within a social hierarchy centred upon the patron, and the envy and careerism this generates, on which see Damon, C., The Mask of the Parasite. A Pathology of Roman Patronage (1997). Such unobtrusive ‘Romanizing’ touches occur throughout the poem, even in episodes situated decidedly to the east of Italy.

45 This version is attested elsewhere at, e.g., Hyg., Fab. 204.

46 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 26.

47 See Gildenhard, I. and Zissos, A., ‘Ovid's Narcissus (Met. 3.339–510): echoes of Oedipus’, AJP 121 (2000), 129–48.

48 It is of course not strictly true that Erichthonius was born without a mother; the Callimachean version alludes more precisely to events: ὑϕ' 'Ηϕαίστῳ τέκε Γαῖα (fr. 70.8 Hollis). But more importantly, the ancestor. The father Vulcan/Hephaestus is left unnamed in the Ovidian version. This is certainly not because Ovid did not have a view on the subject; in a subsequent tale he supplies the Callimachean paternity: ‘sine matre creatam / Lemnicolae stirpem’ (2.756–7). Rather, it momentarily occludes the divine genealogy of this crucial Athenian king and autochthonous ancestor. The paternity of Erichthonius is in part significant because as Hollis, op. cit. (n. 19), 235 notes, ‘primeval kings are often strange children of the fire-god’.

49 For a ‘political’ reading of these lines which sees Aesculapius as a precursor to Augustus, see Barchiesi, A., ‘Endgames: Ovid's Metamorphoses 15 and Fasti 6’, in Roberts, D. H., Dunn, F. M. and Fowler, D. (eds), Classical Closure (1997), 181208, at 191–2.

50 Loraux, op. cit. (n. 13), 277.

51 For the historical event, see the account of Liv. 10.47.6–7 and per. 11. Barchiesi, op. cit. (n. 49), 189 makes the suggestive observation that Ovid's later account of the Roman crisis at Met. 15.626–30 is similar to Lucretius' account of the plague in Athens in De Rerum Natura 6.

52 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 74.

53 cf. Barchiesi, op. cit. (n. 49), 191: ‘A solemn, hymnlike harmony closes and sets in unison the destinies of the world and of the mother city … [Aesculapius] is also guarantor of a cultural transference and of a translatio imperii.’

54 Barchiesi, op. cit. (n. 49), 190.

55 See Gildenhard, I. and Zissos, A., ‘Somatic economies: tragic bodies and poetic design in Ovid's Metamorphoses’, in Hardie, P., Barchiesi, A. and Hinds, S. (eds), Ovidian Transformations: Essays on Ovid's Metamorphoses and its Reception (1999), 162–81.

56 This belief is attested at, e.g., Hdt. 7.161.

57 Loraux, op. cit. (n. 13), 277.

58 Barchiesi, op. cit. (n. 49), 189.

59 That the Romans ascribed special significance to the topography of their city, just as the Athenians did, is of course quite another matter: see C. Edwards, Writing Rome. Textual Approaches to the City (1996).

60 Gildenhard and Zissos, op. cit. (n. 4).

61 cf. Barchiesi, op. cit. (n. 49), 191: ‘There is much to recommend a political reading of [the Ocyrhoe episode]. Apollo, the father and healer of Aesculapius, has a central role in the assimilation of religious symbols that was so important to Augustan political discourse. Salutifer is an appropriate epithet for the image of a savior that the emperor projected onto the world stage. The omen cresce puer! makes one think of a politicized, Augustan interpretation of Virgil's fourth eclogue.’

62 In the Fasti version of Apollo and the Raven, the numinous and the anthropomorphic go hand in hand, thereby resolving — at least in this one instance — the divine paradoxes that Ovid explores in the Metamorphoses. The raven, having been ordered to fetch water by the god, espies from the air a fig-tree laden with unripe fruit and decides, ‘immemor imperii’, to wait for it to ripen. Upon his return he lies to Apollo as to the cause for his delay. The god responds with indignation: ‘“addis” ait “culpae mendacia” Phoebus “et audes / fatidicum verbis fallere velle deum?”’ (2.261–2). In the Fasti, then, the raven incurs personal guilt (instead of uncovering hidden guilt as in the Metamorphoses), and Apollo is not deceived. The tale thus illustrates the quasi-didactic principle that lying to the god of prophecy is not particularly wise. It is perhaps not by accident that the Fasti, a poetic celebration of Roman religion, inverts the terms of the Apollo-raven relationship as depicted in the Metamorphoses.

63 Keith, op. cit. (n. 12), 20.

64 A very similar effect is achieved on a much smaller scale in the Apollo and Daphne episode. Following his slaying of the Python, the god inaugurates the Pythian Games to commemorate the deed. Ovid notes that victors were then awarded oak leaves because ‘nondum laurus erat’ (1.450). At the conclusion of the tale, however, when Apollo addresses the newly-created laurel tree, he mentions its leaves as forming the crowns worn by ‘duces Latii’ when celebrating triumphs (1.560–1) as well as serving as the ‘fidissima custos' of the door-posts of Augustus’ Palatine residence (1.562–3). Thus, where the narrative would seem to call for the elaboration of a Greek cultural institution, the Pythian Games, the poet instead focuses on a Roman cultural institution celebrating Roman power.

65 i.e. Ovid preserves the sportive anachronism of the gymnasium of Lycean Apollo that is found in Callimachus: ‘culti … arbusta Lycei’ (2.710); cf. Λυκείου / … κατὰ δρόμον 'Απόλλωνος (fr. 71.2–3 Hollis). This constitutes an intertextual reference to the elided episode. In Callimachus, the informant crow meets Athena ‘by the beautiful, ever-brilliant gymnasium of Lycean Apollo’ (note the arch signalling of the anachronism by ‘ever-brilliant’).

66 It is worth noting in passing that Ovid disrupts the orderly evolution of Athenian culture by introducing a chronological rift into the ktisis cycle. This rift arises from the participation of the Cecropides in a ritual procession that was traditionally instituted after their deaths. Erichthonius founded the Panathenaea to commemorate his experiences with the Cecropides; in most versions they had gone mad and thrown themselves off a cliff well before he celebrated the festival for the first time (cf. Eur., Ion 21–2, 271–2, 1427–8; Apollod. 3.14.6; in another variant, preserved at Paus. 1.18, they were killed by the serpent; the Ovidian version, in which the punishment is deferred and applied to only one of the sisters, appears to be his own invention). The consequent temporal rift is particularly significant, in that Erichthonius, a founding king of the polis, was the figure to whom, as Loraux, op. cit. (n. 13), 113 notes, the Athenians owed their ‘uninterrupted past from time immemorial’.

67 The theme is also developed in the Greek novel, as well as in the story of Acontius and Cydippe, as told at Callim., Aet. fr. 67–75 Pf. and Ov., Her. 21.77–104.

68 Galinsky, G. K., Ovid's Metamorphoses: An Introduction to the Basic Aspects (1975), 167, citing as examples Ars 1.269–70 (‘prima tuae menti veniat fiducia, cunctas / posse capi: capiet, tu modo tende plagas’), and 1.513–14 (‘munditie placeant: fuscentur corpora Campo; / sit bene conveniens et sine labe toga’).

69 See P. Fedeli (ed.), Properzio. II libro terzo delle Elegie (1985), 676.

70 Loraux, op. cit. (n. 13), 15.

71 This all but inverts Athena's action at the end of Aeschylus' Eumenides, where she presides over the transformation of the hellish Erinyes into the beneficial Eumenides. In a sense, Invidia undoes the blessings that Athena asks the Eumenides to bestow upon her city at Eum. 902–12.

72 As Harrison, J. E., ‘The three daughters of Cecrops’, JHS 12 (1891), 350–5, at 353 notes, the tradition on this score is very confused, with a sexual liaison between Mercury/Hermes and each of the sisters attested. A Hermes-Aglauros liaison is mentioned at, e.g., Paus. 1.38.3.

73 Galinsky, op. cit. (n. 68), 168.

74 cf. Met. 1.1–3: ‘in nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas / corpora: di, coeptis (nam vos mutastis et ilia) / aspirate meis …’ Lelex asserts the veracity of his tale several times. Cf. esp. 8.622: ‘ipse locum vidi’ (i.e. he has performed an autopsy on location) and 720–1: ‘haec mihi non vani (neque erat, cur fallere vellent) / narravere senes’. From Ovid's point of view, all such assertions are inevitably tongue-in-cheek and enact a sophisticated epistemological play with truth, fiction, and falsehood. It is nonetheless important that the poet uses the Philemon and Baucis episode to raise these problems explicitly, thereby reflecting in the very middle on the key theme of the epic.

75 For a survey of the motif in Greek and Latin literature, see Hollis, A. (ed.), Ovid, Metamorphoses Book VIII (1970), 106–7.

76 Hollis, op. cit. (n. 75), 107, who also discusses possible Near-Eastern parallels.

77 Mack, S., Ovid (1988), 136–41.

78 Per litteras. Cf. Met. 8.620–1 : ‘tiliae contermina quercus / collibus est Phrygiis, medio circumdata muro’; and 15.444–5 (Pythagoras predicting the future rise of Rome): ‘“urbem etiam cerno Phrygios debere nepotes, / quanta nee est nee erit nee visa prioribus annis”’.

79 Hollis, op. cit. (n. 75), 111.

80 See Bömer, op. cit. (n. 30), ad loc. for discussion and bibliography.

81 Athetizing the verses would also eliminate an allusion to the speech of Anchises in Vergil's nekyia. A very similar play with temporal perspectives and the rise and fall of cities is found at Aen. 6.773–6, and this Vergilian reminiscence sets the tone for Ovid's sustained engagement with Vergil's parade of heroes throughout this section of Pythagoras' speech (see below).

82 Hardie, op. cit. (n. 11), 235.

83 For an ‘imperialist’ reading of the epilogue, see now T. Habinek, ‘Ovid and empire’, in P. Hardie (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ovid (2002), 46–61.

84 cf. Alcock, S. (ed.), Roman Athens (1997), 3: ‘Thanks to its perceived glorious history and the notable past achievements of its citizens, Athens, more than any other Greek city, possessed a stock of symbolic capital with which to negotiate its position with Rome.’

85 The loss of spatial and temporal coherence in the treatment of Athenian subject matter in Metamorphoses 2 contrasts sharply with the distinct annalistic record that Ovid supplies for the Roman kings and the care with which he maps out the city of Rome and her destiny in the final books of the poem. Considered in this light, the annalistic catalogue of Roman kings at Met. 14.609–21 acquires an almost programmatic significance. We note also the remarkable transformation of Hersilia, wife of Romulus, into the goddess Hora, divine spouse of the deified Romulus, i.e. the Roman patron deity Quirinus. Time, it would seem, is wedded to Rome. For this portion of the poem, see now Hardie, P., ‘The historian in Ovid. The Roman history of Metamorphoses 14 and 15’, in Levine, D. S. and Nelis, D. P. (eds), Clio and the Poets. Augustan Poetry and the Traditions of Ancient Historiography (2002), 191209; S. Kyriakidis, ‘The Alban kings in the Metamorphoses: an Ovidian catalogue and its historiographical models’, in ibid., 211–29; Tissol, G., ‘The house of fame: Roman history and Augustan politics in Metamorphoses 11–15’, in Boyd, B. Weiden (ed.), Brill Companion to Ovid (2002), 305–35. A striking articulation of Roman destiny is found in Jupiter's prophecy at Met. 15.807–42, which refers to (and partially unveils) the rerum tabularia — a phrase neatly translated by von Albrecht as ‘das Archiv der Weltgeschichte’.

Ovid's ‘Hecale’: Deconstructing Athens in the Metamorphoses

  • Ingo Gildenhard (a1) and Andrew Zissos (a2)


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