Tragic palimpsests: The reception of Euripides in Ovid's Metamorphoses

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Tragic palimpsests: The reception of Euripides in Ovid's Metamorphoses

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Title: Tragic palimpsests: The reception of Euripides in Ovid's Metamorphoses
Author: Paschalis, Sergios
Citation: Paschalis, Sergios. 2015. Tragic palimpsests: The reception of Euripides in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: The subject of this dissertation is the reception of Euripidean tragedy in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
In Chapter 1 I offer a general survey of the afterlife of Euripidean drama in the major mediating
intertexts between Euripides and Ovid, namely Hellenistic poetry, Roman Republican tragedy,
and Virgil’s Aeneid, as well as a review of the pervasive presence of the Greek tragedian in the
Ovidian corpus. Chapter 2 focuses on the reception of Euripides’ Bacchae in the
Metamorphoses. The starting point of my analysis is Ovid’s epic rewriting of the Euripidean play
in the Pentheus episode. Next, I argue that Ovid makes use of the allusive technique of
“fragmentation”, in the sense that he grafts elements of the Bacchae in the narratives of the
Minyads and Orpheus. The final section examines Ovid’s portrayal of Procne, Medea, and
Byblis as maenads and their evocation of the Virgilian Bacchants Dido and Amata. In Chapter 3
I begin by investigating Ovid’s intertextual engagement with Euripides’ Medea in the Medea
narrative of Book 7, which is read as an epicized “mega-tragedy” encompassing the Colchian’s
entire mythical career. In the second part of the chapter I discuss the Roman poet’s reworking of
the Euripidean tragedy in other episodes of the Metamorphoses and argue that Procne, Althaea,
and Deianira constitute “refractions” of Euripides’ Medea. Chapter 4 examines Ovid’s epic
refashioning of Euripides’ Hecuba, which he merges with Virgil’s alternative variant of the
Polydorus myth in Aeneid 3. The Roman poet reshapes the main plot components of the Greek
play, but also makes subtle allusions to the Virgilian version of the story. Chapter 5 is devoted to
the episode of Virbius in Metamorphoses 15. Ovid produces a novel version of the myth by
melding together his Euripidean model with Virgilian and Sophoclean intertexts. The Roman
poet adapts Virgil’s Virbius story in Aeneid 7 by altering its context from a catalogue of Latin
warriors into an exchange between Virbius and the nymph Egeria. Moreover, the Ovidian
narrative draws on Euripides’ two Hippolytus plays, the extant Hippolytos Stephanephoros and
the fragmentary Hippolytos Kalyptomenos, as well as on Sophocles’ Phaedra.
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