Titus Andronicus

Shakespeare's Reconfiguration of "Tereus, Procne, and Philomela" in Titus Andronicus College


Few of the episodes in Ovid’s Metamorphoses have resonated so powerfully with audiences as Book VI’s story “Tereus, Procne, and Philomela” has been able to. From the time of Metamorphoses’ publication until the present day, the agonizing myth has been retold, modified, and elaborated on in many creative mediums that encompass forms of both high and low art. Some of these works only focus on a single element of the story; Matthew Arnold’s “Philomela,” for example, expresses the plight of the story’s transformed victim by revisiting her as a nightingale well after the fact, while Tereus’ consumption of Itys at Procne’s feast is re-imagined in the South Park episode “Scott Tenorman Must Die,” when Tenorman unknowingly has his parents fed to him in a bowl of chili by a vengeful Eric Cartman; but Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is one of the rare retellings that manages to encapsulate almost all of the different fabrics woven into Ovid’s tale. Though Titus Andronicus is in dialogue with the entire Metamorphoses and other works of classical antiquity throughout, it is centrally concerned with transforming the “Tereus, Procne, and...

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