A Discourse of Wonders: Audience and Performance in Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

Overview

In A Discourse of Wonders, Stephen M. Wheeler introduces a fresh perspective for readers of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Drawing on Ovidian scholarship and twentieth-century literary theory, he argues that the poem is not an anthology or collection but a single continuous performance. Wheeler's thorough, detailed analysis of how Ovid constructs, cultivates, and transforms his audience challenges the assumption that Ovid's narrative persona addresses the reader. Wheeler proposes instead that Ovid represents himself in ...

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Overview

In A Discourse of Wonders, Stephen M. Wheeler introduces a fresh perspective for readers of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Drawing on Ovidian scholarship and twentieth-century literary theory, he argues that the poem is not an anthology or collection but a single continuous performance. Wheeler's thorough, detailed analysis of how Ovid constructs, cultivates, and transforms his audience challenges the assumption that Ovid's narrative persona addresses the reader. Wheeler proposes instead that Ovid represents himself in the poem as an epic storyteller moved to tell a universal history of metamorphosis in the presence of a fictional audience. The longstanding critical interest in Ovid's poetics, Wheeler maintains, has tended to obscure the role of the audience in reading and interpreting the Metamorphoses.

A Discourse of Wonders offers an imaginative and accessible revaluation of one of the greatest surviving works of classical poetry, one whose enduring influence can be found in literature, art, music, and the performing arts from the Middle Ages to the present.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wheeler . . . enhances future reading and interpretation of the Metamorphoses. His is an elegantly written book."—W. S. Anderson, University of California, Berkeley

"Wheeler has enough style and wit of his own so as not to diminish his subject; indeed, he is well-matched to it, , , , The adjective that comes to mind is "masterful."—Peter Bing, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Intelligent and well-informed."—Classical World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812234756
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/1999
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.35 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen M. Wheeler teaches classics and ancient Mediterranean studies at Pennsylvania State University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
List of Editions and Abbreviations
Introduction: The Fate of the Audience 1
1 Metamorphosis in the Reader 8
2 The Fiction of Viva-Voce Performance 34
3 The Divided Audience 66
4 Assembling an Audience 94
5 Discourse and Time 117
6 Directions to the Audience 140
7 The Danger of Disbelief 162
8 Translating Past into Present 194
App. A Internal Narrators and Audiences in the Metamorphoses 207
App. B Generalizing Second Person Singular 211
Notes 213
References 241
Acknowledgments 259
Index Locorum 261
General Index 265
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