By first examining the origins of ecphrasis as a rhetorical trope, as well as its association with simile, the author provides an historical context on which to base a discussion of Ovid's own use of the device. Consideration is given to recent theoretical approaches to the subject, as well as to a selection of ancient texts that may have influenced Ovid's work. After this, a more in-depth examination of relevant passages within the Metamorphoses is undertaken. The author concludes by considering the benefits of an intertextual approach to the material, as well as looking at the extent to which Ovid's determination to both allude to and outdo his predecessors, influenced the style and substance of his work. In looking at the links between the literary and plastic arts, the reader is invited to consider the possibility that Ovid's pre-occupation with artists and artistic endeavours makes the Metamorphoses itself both an extended ecphrasis and a commentary on Ovid's obsession with his own artistry.
About the Author
Elizabeth Norton gained a PhD in Classical and Archaeological Studies from Kent University in 2010. She wrote her Masters dissertation on witchcraft in antiquity and taught classical mythology and related subjects at Kent University. She has recently contributed articles to the Encyclopedia of Ancient History, published by Wiley-Blackwell.