Ovid’s Legacy and the Visceral Text. Caitlin Hines, 10/15/21

Ovid was the first Roman author to use the word viscera as a reproductive metaphor. The wombs and offspring denoted by viscera in the Ovidian corpus are never visceral without cause: the poet deploys these figures exclusively in contexts of matricide, patricide, filicide, fratricide, incest, and civil war. In doing so, he constructs an indelible association between reproduction and the most horrifying violations of kinship bonds. From violated wombs to murdered children to the author’s fantasies of destroying his own textual offspring, the amplification of viscera within Ovid’s corpus contributes to the sharpening of Roman poetics around fertility and women’s bodies in the Augustan period. The legacy of Ovid’s visceral text endures far beyond his lifetime, living on even in the works of his harshest critic.

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