Paradox and the Marvellous in Augustan Literature and Culture

Hardcover (Print)
Not Available on


The literature and art of Augustan Rome are often characterized as classicizing in tendency, aiming at a harmony, sobriety, and seriousness that are in keeping with an Augustan ideology of a revival of traditional Roman morality and common sense. The 'Augustan' is often contrasted with a proclivity to the bizarre and emotional in the neoteric poetry that preceded it, and with the supposed psychological and rhetorical excesses of the culture of post-Augustan imperial Rome. But Augustan culture and poetry are in fact marked by a far-reaching interest in the paradoxical, the marvellous, and the unexpected. In poetry Horace and Ovid are key figures in the development of ideas of poetic licence; Augustan wall-painting and sculpture frequently stray into the fantastic. Augustan authors respond to the amazing growth of Roman empire, and to the paradoxical novelty of Augustus' 'Roman Revolution'. There is a continuing interest in Hellenistic traditions of paradoxography and ethnographic marvels. Ovid's Metamorphoses, the late Augustan poem which takes as its subject-matter the fantastic and marvellous, can be read as a summa of important aspects of Augustan culture and literature. This volume, including contributions by some of the leading students of the Augustan period as well as a number of younger scholars, is the first to survey a broad range of the manifestations of paradox and the marvellous in Augustan poetry, historiography, rhetoric, and art.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199231249
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/3/2009
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Hardie is Senior Research Fellow, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

List of Contributors xi

1 Introduction: Paradox and the Marvellous in Augustan Literature and Culture Philip Hardie 1

2 Horace's Ars Poetica and the Marvellous Mario Citroni 19

3 Where the Wild Things Are: Locating the Marvellous in Augustan Wall Painting Verity Platt 41

4 Against Nature? Some Augustan Responses to Man-made Marvels Rebecca Armstrong 75

5 Virgil: A Paradoxical Poet? Philip Hardie 95

6 The Question of the Marvellous in the Georgics of Virgil Alain Deremetz 113

7 In Search of the Lost Hercules: Strategies of the Fantastic in the Aeneid Mario Labate 126

8 Thaumatographia, or 'What is a Theme?' J├╝rgen Paul Schwindt 145

9 Phaethon and the Monsters Alessandro Barchiesi 163

10 Prodigiosa mendacia uatum: Responses to the Marvellous in Ovid's Narrative of Perseus (Metamorphoses 4-5) Florence Klein 189

11 Encountering the Fantastic: Expectations, Forms of Communication, Reactions Marco Fucecchi 213

12 Constructing a Narrative of mira deum: The Story of Philemon and Baucis (Ovid, Metamorphoses 8) Jacqueline Fabre-Serris 231

13 Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.416-51: noua monstra and the foedera naturae Damien Nelis 248

14 Latrator Anubis: Alien Divinities in Augustan Rome, and how to Tame Monsters through Aetiology Gianpiero Rosati 268

15 Ordering Wonderland: Ovid's Pythagoras and the Augustan Vision Mary Beagon 288

16 Delusions of Grandeur: Lucretian 'Passages' in Livy Andrew Feldherr 310

17 The Strange Art of the Sententious Declaimer Joy Connolly 330

References 350

Indexes 381

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)