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In non-narrative contexts, the use of the present to refer to past events is supported by the idea that these events are currently accessible through some kind of record. In references to mythological events, the implied record is mythographical or iconographical. In references to historical events, the implied record is chronographical, such as the Parian Marble. In references to transactions in the legal and business spheres, the implied record is a document from the corresponding sphere, such as a sales contract. The implication conveyed by the construal of the designated past event as being 'on record' is that this event is well-documented and of some importance in recorded history.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a history of the world down to his own time, and Ovid shows a sophisticated understanding of the ancient systems of chronology and chronography that were conventionally used in such histories. He distorts conventional ways of organising past time in order to disrupt the Augustan view of teleological progress towards a pre-ordained world order.
Chapter 1 of The Cambridge Companion to Sappho analyses Sappho’s biography, sifting the ancient texts which give us information about Sappho’s life, and considering just how reliable they are as sources for the poet of Lesbos.
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