- Ovid’s Aeginetan plague and the metamorphosis of the Georgics
- Hermes: Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie
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- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
The influence of the ancient literary tradition upon the Georgics is as broad as it is profound , but in Virgil’s highly allusive didactic poem, the description of the Noric cattle plague at the end of Georgics 3 holds a unique position. As R.F. THOMAS comments, "nowhere else does Virgil draw so deeply from a single source" . This source is Lucretius’ account of the human plague of Athens in the sixth book of his De Rerum Natura, which in its turn draws heavily on Thucydides’ account of the same event (2.48ff.). As with Virgil’s plague, Lucretius’ episode rounds off a book - in fact the entire work - and the pessimistic ending of both Virgil’s third book and Lucretius’ didactic epic have received a lot of scholarly attention . Another text that is part of this series of literary plagues, however, Ovid’s account of the mythological plague that ravaged the animals and humans of Aegina in book 7 of the Metamorphoses, has been rather neglected. As I will argue, this Ovidian episode can be seen as the climax of the series of poetical plague descriptions. Ovid has cleverly reworked Virgil’s account in combination with its aftermath in the Georgics, as well as in the Aeneid, to fit the poetical agenda of his work.
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