In lines 13.623-14.582 of the Metamorphoses, Ovid recounts the events that Vergil described in his Aeneid. While he keeps the major plot points, Ovid places emphasis on Vergilian tales of metamorphosis, as is fitting for the theme of his poem. In order to do so, Ovid sometimes severely abbreviates important episodes from the Aeneid. Two such episodes are the Dido love affair from book IV and the trip to the underworld in book VI. Ovid’s treatment of these sections provides valuable insight into his attitude toward the Aeneid and its creator. By severely condensing important passages from the Aeneid, Ovid emphasizes the bad aspects of Aeneas' character in order to paint a negative picture not only of Aeneas, but also of Augustus himself.
There are two devices that Ovid most commonly uses in order to do this. These are the use of the rhetorical device litotes and his diction. By understating the important events of books IV and VI, Ovid is able to make anti-Augustan claims without saying anything. This, in addition to the emphasis he places on deception through his diction, creates an image opposite of the pius Aeneas that Vergil depicts. Therefore, because of the many links Augustus and the gens Iulia strove to create with Aeneas, these negative aspects are then transferred on to Augustus himself.
Date of Completion
Bachelor of Arts in Classics
Date of Award
University of Puget Sound
Matz, Alicia, "Dum conderet urbem: Poetic Portraits of Aeneas as Political Commentaries on Augustus" (2015). Honors Program Theses. 12.