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Ovid as Historian. The reception of classical mythology in medieval France and Spain


Ovid –the classical Roman poet of love and mythology– became an immensely influential literary figure in Western Europe
during the 12th and 13th centuries. Due to his versatility, ambiguity and multi-generic poetic creativity his readership only
kept growing towards the Renaissance, although this demanded a number of different reading strategies (or excuses), best
known through the French adaptation of the Metamorphoses, Ovide moralisé (14th century). But allegory and moralizing
were not the only medieval appropriations of Ovid's myths.
The present project aims to bring the historical and literate reception of the Metamorphoses and the Heroides into the
discussion. Reading Ovid’s classical mythology ‘at face value’ or as a part of history was, in fact, a substantial part of the
medieval engagement with the Roman poet. Two major works of vernacular historical writing actually use Ovid’s texts in this
manner: the Castilian General estoria (compiled 1270-84), and the French narrative of the ancient world, the Histoire
ancienne jusqu'à César (14th cent. version).
The three vernacular texts and their similar appropriation of Ovid need to be studied together. This comparative, multilingual
and transnational approach is another innovative aspect of the proposal. Breaking out of nationally defined research
traditions requires a new intellectual framework which will be provided by the Danish-English Centre of Excellence, the
Centre for Medieval Literature (Odense and York). The project fits perfectly into the European agenda of CML which divides
its research into three main strands: fictionality, languages, and canon. The present proposal will draw on, and contribute to,
CML in all three areas: studying literature that crosses languages (Latin, French, Castilian), theorizing both the medieval
canon (differing but contemporary approaches to Ovid) and the modern, and bringing the medieval reception of classical
mythology into the discussion about fictionality and historicity.


Net EU contribution
€ 200 194,80
5230 Odense M

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Danmark Syddanmark Fyn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 200 194,80