Theses Doctoral

The Ovidian Soundscape: the Poetics of Noise in the Metamorphoses

Kaczor, Sarah

This dissertation aims to study the variety of sounds described in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and to identify an aesthetic of noise in the poem, a soundscape which contributes to the work’s thematic undertones. The two entities which shape an understanding of the poem’s conception of noise are Chaos, the conglomerate of mobile, conflicting elements with which the poem begins, and the personified Fama, whose domus is seen to contain a chaotic cosmos of words rather than elements. Within the loose frame provided by Chaos and Fama, the varied categories of noise in the Metamorphoses’ world, from nature sounds to speech, are seen to share qualities of changeability, mobility, and conflict, qualities which align them with the overall themes of flux and metamorphosis in the poem. I discuss three categories of Ovidian sound: in the first chapter, cosmological and elemental sound; in the second chapter, nature noises with an emphasis on the vocality of reeds and the role of echoes; and in the third chapter I treat human and divine speech and narrative, and the role of rumor. By the end of the poem, Ovid leaves us with a chaos of words as well as of forms, which bears important implications for his treatment of contemporary Augustanism as well as his belief in his own poetic fame.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Gareth David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 10, 2019