Ovid Metamorphoses Essay Topic

Essay Topic 1

In the beginning of time after creation, the humans go through four distinct ages. Briefly describe the four ages, and explain which among them had the largest impact on humanity, citing examples from the text to strengthen your argument.

Essay Topic 2

After the flood, there were very specific instructions given to the survivors as to how the world should be repopulated. Explain how the two survivors came to be selected, describe their instructions for re-population, and describe the survivors' reaction to their instructions.

Essay Topic 3

Storytelling is an important asset to Ovid as he progresses through this novel. Explain how storytelling presents itself in the novel, and then compare / contrast storytelling and plot as they appear as themes in the novel as a whole.

Essay Topic 4

All of Ovid's relationships in the text seem to end the same way - with one or both of the...

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The final will ask you to write on two of the following:

1. The Metamorphoses teems with speakers and poets, craftspeople and inventors. To what extent do these internal artists, and the reactions of characters to these makers, influence how we understand—or how Ovid might intend us to understand—the Metamorphoses.

2. Describe the genre of the Metamorphoses. Your discussion should situate the poem within the constellation of Roman literary genres (or at least more than one) and may include discussion of Ovid’s narrative and rhetorical strategies, as well as the structure of the work.

3. Until its concluding books, the world of Ovidian myth seems impossibly remote from contemporary Rome. Yet most of Ovid’s other works are quintessentially Roman poems, either in setting or their self-conscious separation from the city and its urban culture. Do the final books of the Metamorphoses represent a nostos, a return to Rome for a reader set adrift in Greek myth? Or are Roman concerns present throughout the work?

4. Describe the role of landscape and space in the Metamorphoses. You may wish to consider some or all of the following: Why does Ovid begin (end nearly conclude) with a detailed cosmogony? What are the typical—and atypical—settings for Ovidian myth? Is landscape merely a stage on which Ovidian myth takes place or can it function as a narrative agent in its own right?

5. Ovid is on trial. In the spring of 2015, students at Columbia University penned an opinion essay that questioned whether the Metamorphoses should continue to have a place in the university’s required Core. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, they wrote:

“is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom. These texts, wrought with histories and narratives of exclusion and oppression, can be difficult to read and discuss as a survivor, a person of color, or a student from a low-income background” (Johnson, Kai et al. “Our Identities Matter in Core Classrooms”, Columbia Spectator,4/30/2105).

Defend the reading of the Metamorphoses by undergraduate students. An effective essay will aim to convince readers skeptical of Ovid’s durable value. Note this need not be a defense of Ovid but a defense of the value of reading his work.

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