Metamorphoses

Ovid and Dante: The Power of Imagery 12th Grade

In Metamorphoses, Ovid attempts the great task of recounting the history of the world, from its creation to the death of Julius Caesar. However, Ovid's work is not solely an encyclopaedia of mythology; it is also the source of much standard figurative language. Similarly, Dante Alighieri attempts to achieve the great task of assembling a visionary narrative. The Inferno is a highly structured vision of the future that not only highlights the Christian religion, but also integrates many mythological figures of the past. But the genius of Dante lies not in the grand vision he has dreamed of, but in the way that he has presented it. Through his poem, Dante aims to inspire fear in his readers; he hopes to create a future that is more real than the present so that his readers will repent. To achieve this goal, Dante employs highly concrete imagery. Ovid strives towards an opposite purpose; in his portrayal of specific myths, Ovid aims to evoke a past that is identical to the present. He aims to convince readers that the glorious warriors and fantastical gods of the past are very much like themselves, and thus aims to disenchant his readers. Much like Dante, Ovid also exploits imagery to achieve his goal. However, the ways that these...

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