Ovid As an Epic Poet.
Cambridge University Press, London, 1966. XII,411p. Cloth wrps. Wrps bit worn and repaired with acid free adhesive tape.'This handsomely produced book on the 'Metamorphoses' has three main theses. First that the poem is an epic on Love; Ovid 'took the one thing that was to him emotionally real - the love that unites or destroys men and women - and made an epic of it' (p.345). Secondly that the key to the continuity of this 'carmen perpetuum' lies not in the often tenuous links between the individual episodes but in the arrangement of the themes: (a) i. I-ii 875, 'The Divine Comedy', tales in which amor brings a loss of 'maiestas' to the gods; (b) iii. I-Vi. 400, 'The Avenging Gods', tales of divine wrath, interspersed with amatory episodes; (c) Vi. 401-Xi. 795, 'The Pathos of Love', tales of human passion, with contrasting episodes of a miraculous character. Each group has an elaborate internal structure, which Otis expounds in great detail, and there is a progression from one group to another in terms of the poet's engagement with his subject. Otis's third thesis is that the unity of the epic is marred by the conflict between the love theme, which was Ovid's primary concern, and the Roman-Augustan theme, which he felt obliged to include for political reasons. (...) Otis's mistake all through is that he seeks to impose a macrostructure, using as his units the individual stories and ignoring the lower levels of organic construction which link the stories into groups of various shapes and sizes. (...) In the detailed criticism of particular passages Otis has some acute and sensitive things to say. He is particularly good on the differences between elegiac and hexameter narrative (pp.23 ff.). Yet even here some of his concepts are open to question.' (ROBERT COLEMAN in The Classical Review (New Series), 1967, pp.46-50).