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Tempestuous Poetry: Storms in Ovid's Metamorphoses, Heroides and Tristia

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This article considers the most prominent storm-narratives within the Ovidian corpus. These storm-narratives include the description of the storm in the first book of the Metamorphoses, the story of Ceyx and Alcyone in the eleventh book of the Metamorphoses, the story of Hero and Leander in the Heroides (Her. 18-9), and the three storm-poems in the first book of the Tristia (1.2, 1.4, 1.11). A brief summary on the literary tradition of storms provides the necessary context for my discussion of these individual passages. Three principal arguments are put forward in my analysis of the specific storm-narratives. Firstly, I point out that there are extensive verbal and thematic inter-connections between the various passages, and that this encourages us to see the 'storm theme' as a poetic subject which Ovid consciously exploits. Secondly, I focus on Ovid's treatment of the generic conflict between the epic and elegiac aspects of storms. Here I show that Ovid is capable of producing 'epic storms', but more often deploys storms within elegiac, or erotic, narratives. Thirdly, I consider how Ovid utilises the symbolic capabilities of storms to reflect the psychological turmoil of lovers like Alcyone and Leander, and exiles like himself.

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