Cover image for Ovid : the poet and his work
Ovid : the poet and his work
Holzberg, Niklas.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ovid English
Publication Information:
Ithaca, N.Y. ; London : Cornell University Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xiii, 217 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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PA6537 .H65 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The Roman poet Ovid is enjoying a renaissance. Though relegated to the margins in the Romantic period, since the mid-1980s he has become popular again, not only with classicists and other lovers of ancient poetry, but also with poets and prose writers. He himself is the protagonist of a number of recent novels and stories, including Jane Alison's The Love Artist, Derek Mahon's Ovid in Tomis, and David Malouf's An Imaginary Life. Ovid's greatest work, the Metamorphoses, has inspired authors such as Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes to publish retellings of certain of his stories of transformation.The distinguished classicist Niklas Holzberg offers a highly readable, concise yet comprehensive overview of all of Ovid's varied works, giving each stage of Ovid's career its due and allowing no text to be diminished by serving as a prelude or epilogue to others. In addition, Holzberg's own insightful, frequently witty observations infuse the book, resulting in a rounded vision of a storyteller Holzberg finds to be distinctly modern.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The Roman poet Ovid remains one of the most influential and in some ways modern of the ancient Latin writers. This translation of the second edition of Holzberg's study of Ovid helps to explain this sense of modernity. Holzberg (classical philology, Univ. of Munich, Germany), who has also published important books on Menander and the ancient novel, here argues that there is a polyphonic quality in Ovid's texts, the result of a play of multiple points of view, allusions, and intertextuality. He traces this through all of Ovid's work and especially the Metamorphoses, which uses many discourses to break out of conventional patterns of narrative. Holzberg's examination begins with two chapters on approaches to the work and to the poet, followed by chapters such as "Erotic Novel and Elegiac Poetics: The Amores' and "Poetic Explanation of Causes as Mythological World History: The Metamorphoses." It could serve as an excellent introduction to Ovid; at the same time, Holzberg's book is thoroughly familiar with the current scholarship and could offer much to the specialist. Highly recommended. T.L. Cooksey, Armstrong Atlantic State Univ., Savannah, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The current popularity of Ovid's poetry, seen in stage versions of the Metamorphoses and novelizations of the poet's life, demands an overview suited to the uninitiated reader. This adequate translation of a work first published in German (1998), covering all of Ovid's poetry and full of summaries and translations of the Latin, aims to supply that for English speakers; yet this reviewer has difficulty imagining what audience it will appeal to. A case in point is the chapter on the Metamorphoses (the work most apt to excite general interest): Holzberg devotes the chapter to a study of thematic arrangements, subordinating myth and history to second rank. Though the book is intelligent and benefits from Holzberg's study of Ovid's love poetry (Die romische Liebeselegie, 2nd ed., 2001), nowhere does one find enough real literary criticism to give humanists outside of classics a satisfying take on Ovidian poetics, or enough fresh ideas to give Latinists more than a handy survey of current Ovidian studies. Holzberg's treatment of the political background to Augustan poetry, though suggestive, is simplistic, and his account of the all-important influence of Alexandrian poetry is cliched. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General and university collections. J. D. Reed University of Michigan