Relationship Between Ovids Text And Titians Painting English Literature Essay

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If you have encountered other images of Perseus and Andromeda you may wish to refer to these and compare them with Titian's painting; however, the bulk of your answer should be focused on the two sources set in the question. Credit will be given for incorporating the vocabulary and theory of reception studies (which you met in Block 3, Section 4.1) into your answer.;;;

Which moment in the narrative has Titian chosen to foreground?

What does he leave out?

How far does his representation conform to - or diverge from - the details of Ovid's narrative (e.g. the physical setting of the myth and the clothing of the characters)?

Every time you identify a novel element in Titian's painting, you should ask yourself why the painter might have chosen to diverge from Ovid's text in this instance.

Finally, it would be interesting to know whether looking at the Titian image has changed the way that you respond to Ovid's version of the myth.

The Perseus and Andromeda was intended to be a companion to Medea and Jason, according to Titian's letter, but for some reason the second picture was never carried out. Andromeda, bound to the rock at the left, awaits deliverance as Perseus descends from the sky to slay the monster.

Titian has chosen the part of Ovid's myth where Andromeda is bound to the rock in the oil on canvas Andromeda is bound by chains in Ovid's text it isn't clear until further into the text. There is mention of the hooked sword and it illustrated clearly in the painting.

Andromeda's mother and Father are there to witness the fate their daughter but this is omitted from the painting. It being omitted doesn't show the full emotion that is included by Ovid.

There is evidence of coral at the feet of Andromeda this is representative of the fact that Perseus was the hero to slay Medusa and is able to turn to stone those who chanced to look on the decapitated head.

Shown in the painting is also the winged sandals of Perseus which help him in the battle with the sea monster.

Andromeda is depicted as a nude with only a slip of material covering her dignity and in the text it is shown that if her hands were free she would cover face due to the blushes. There is mention of cliffs which fit in with the overall narrative of Ovid but there is no mention of the background scene or the name of the city that is pictered in the background. The sea is clam and there is only a light breeze this is shown in the painitng because it allows Perseus to land on the rock when his sandals are sodden. If this wasn't the case then he would have surly been dfeated when he landed in the water. It appears that Perseus has a harp when he plunges down to fight the monster. Ovid hasn't commented on the harp so this is perhaps another way in which the painting differs from Ovid's interpretation.

It was interesting to see the vision from someone else's perspective and visualise the scene from a differing aspect. When rereading the txt by Ovid I found myself picturing in my minds eye a similar makeup to that of the Titian painting and it added to the enjoyment of the subject matter and increased the awareness of the surroundings.

Use page 67 for the terms in language

Question 2

The myth that I am going to concentrate on are those surrounding the myth of creation I plan to concentrate on the difference between Ovid's interpretation and how this enabled him to highlight his own theme and if this did withdraw from the impact and coherence of the myth due to his own artistic demands. It has been stated that Ovid used love throughout Metamorphoses I aim to examine this theme too.

Ovid's Manipulation of myth

Varying differences are displayed in the creation myths it is not always clear where they originated from and how. Though Ovid and Hesiod are both are starting something from chaos, the "Theogony" by Hesiod focuses more heavily on the succession of how each part of our world came to be. The author Hesiod does so by explaining the lineage of the gods that led to the creation of the planet.

In the beginning of Ovid's telling of the creation myth there is only evidence of one God and he omits to tell the name of this god. Why is this the case could it be that he doesn't want to offend others or that it fits better with his style and theme of change and progression of the Roman idle if he omits the name of the God of creation.

Ovid in his version of the creation myths has introduced the four ages of man. These are The Golden Age, The Silver Age, The Bronze Age, and The Iron Age. He tells us that he from this chaos the world began to form but before this it was a conglomeration of a mass. Ovid has a tendency to focus on the creation and not of the creator, could this is a pointer that Ovid is focussing on the changers and not who brought about these changes.

In first reading you can see the resemblance of the two versions of the myths and how they have many similarities but on further reading and thought development it is significant that each teller differs not only as expected in style, but also substance.

Due to the reworking of myths by Ovid there is some discordance and perhaps we are reading for only an entertainment purpose and not that of scientific fact. An important point in the reading of Ovid's metamorphoses is to keep in mind that some 700 years early Hesiod had written about similar topics. Ovid was Roman and Hesiod Greek so they would have differing reasons for portraying creation as they have done. Their lives would have been very different so Ovid was perhaps writing for his time and for an audience that had prior knowledge of these myths.

The reason that Ovid used the name Metamorphoses could be that he was planning already to use the selected myths that dealt with the transformation of people, gods, and heroes into forces or features of nature. Ovid calls upon the gods to help him create this version of events, does this imply that Ovid's was trying to re write what has gone before in his style that was supposedly supported by the gods. In the quote below it is evident that change was a great focus.

"Ovid calls upon the gods (themselves producers of change, although these lines are ambiguous in meaning) to aid his creative process and draw out a continuous song from the very start of things to Ovid'sown time. While staying alert to the gods' transformative functions, you should note that they are not always responsible for fundamental changes. (Some metamorphoses seem to take place naturally rather than supernaturally in the poem.)"

M and L

Ovid has also capitalised on the fact that in Greek tradition, heaven underwent its own series of evolutions or changes and this fits in perfectly with the theme of metamorphoses.

Ovid does claim to be working in fact when he is telling his story of creation and that he used the works of philosophers as reported by Richard McKim and the fact he demythologised the accounts he used. Something that we must also remember is that Ovid is writing for entertainment and for him the myths are from days gone by and he has only given a cursory mention to the Gods. A point stated in Classical Mythology my Moreford and Longdin perhaps explains this more eloquently

"Mythology for him is little more than inspirational, poetic fodder, however successful and attractive the end product may be. Both the poetic and the real worlds of

Hesiod and Ovid are poles apart."

(M&L, p. 58)

This quote also supports the reasoning that time of writing of Ovid's metamorphoses he was focusing on his own reasons and views and writing for himself and that the age that the writes lived in would reflect greatly on their style and importantly what they would write about.

Manipulation of myth

Why does Ovid leave out the age of hero's is this because it didn't adhere to the vision he had for metamorphoses? This age was an age when all was well and peace reigned and he didn't want to highlight the Greek heroes so left out who they were, at some point they were labelled as demi-gods in other versions of the creation myths. This could also be because Ovid is taking ownership of the ages in the Roman style by bypassing the subject of how human kind are pawns to the Greek gods and instead, as is the Augustan way people work hard for their own achievements and should be aware of the morality and how they should behave.

Reasoning to why the change

Ovid was an entertainer an artist with a great ability to perform and entice a reader with his twists and turns. As a gifted writer and artiste he took pleasure in rewriting myth to make the reader analyse and re read the text in a questioning style but without seriousness.

"The tradition of using the metamorphosis theme to emphasize the Metamorphoses' essential lack of seriousness begins with Ovid himself, who in a later work tells us that his tales of transformation were 'not to be believed' (Trist. 2.64), a claim that highlights the first assumption a contemporary reader might bring to any such story."

Secondary sources

He wanted the reader to question the text and reassess the changes and challenged them to understand his style. In many ways he used his writing has a game for the reader and stretched their understanding and function as a piece of literature.

Ovid himself participates in this process by introducing multiple points of view on transformation itself as well as raising questions about the generic status of his work. Thus metamorphosis continually compels readers to refigure their relationship to the text, their understanding of the narratives it contains, and ultimately how it functions as a literary representation.

Secondary textual sources

Ovid was a watcher and listener and would absorb his surroundings and I believe that his re writing of the creation myths would portray an albeit entertaining style but one that would be closer in nature to the way that Romans were living under the rule of Augustus. This is indicated form the course text as follows

"Ovid takes on the role of an intelligent observer of the Principate (Augustus' rule) as 'a gradually evolving institution, together with all the consequences of that evolution for Roman politics, religion and society in general'

Block 3


It is known that Ovid wrote about love many times and he used this theme throughout Metamorphoses Ovid states himself that

"Ovid had indicated in his earlier work Amours or Poems of Love that one god in particular, Cupid, had propelled him away from epic material and tricked him into writing about the deeds of lovers rather than heroes.

This could also be a reason why he missed out the age of heroes'. In the time of Ovid love was dangerous and a destabilising force and that it exalted a force for the worse over everyone even the Gods. The effects of love brought misery and danger to the myths and in turn where a great type of entertainment. It has been shown that love manipulates reason and mortality. The transformations in Metamorphoses are often from spurned love. Like Jason and Medea, Narcissus who have the connecting theme of love.

Political reasons could also have played a part in the writings of Metamorphoses, it was written in a time when Augustus was trying to shape a society that encouraged marriage and adultery was punished. This could have spurned Ovid to write in a style that displayed punishment if the correct moralistic values were not represented.

Each age has deteriorated into worse than the one previously, this could be a look back to how life was before the great Augustan era and be a tribute to the autocratic ruler of Ovid's time


Ovid knew what he was writing about he wasn't out to contribute fact but to use the mythological creations of writers before him to mould and shape the previous versions that would be a platform to encapsulate and illustrate the talented writer he was and to bring this to the forefront of his notoriety and popularity. Ovid had a confidence in his writing style and ability and was ambitious and not perturbed in the choice of subject that he chose to write about. Metamorphoses, was an indication of and a showpiece for his abilities and allowed him to believe he could write in a style that he chose regardless of consequence. In some ways this did detract from the myth itself but I believe that the exceptional style and panache of the talented writer outweighed this. This was conceivably the precursor to his unfortunate exile by Augustus that Ovid endured until his death.