By A cura di Ludovica Koch
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52 In the song episodes of books 5 and 10, Ovid adopts from pastoral the verbatim representation of poetry in poetry and the apparently idyllic rural setting, which will be discussed in chapter 2 below; the singing competition of book 5 most closely parallels the nonamoebaean Idylls 6 and 7, and Eclogues 5 and 8. But the similarities end there. The professionalism of the artist-protagonists in Ovid’s episodes is a fundamentally urban construct; both the artists and their creative situations depart sharply from the relaxed rural atmosphere that surrounds Theocritean pastoral song, which in any case, as Segal has demonstrated,53 almost always signals a setting for danger and violence in the Metamorphoses.
82–83) ~ verum taurum, freta vera putares, ‘you would have thought the bull, the waves, were real’ (Met. 104). A singer wellknown to the women from other festivals then performs a hymn to Aphrodite, which itself includes an ekphrastic description of scenes on a woven coverlet on the couch of Adonis; it is therefore strikingly similar to Catullus 64. Like the hymn to Ceres sung by Calliope in Metamorphoses 5, which is followed directly by the ekphrases of Arachne’s and 38 Ovid’s Artists Minerva’s tapestries, Theocritus’s hymn to Aphrodite, preceded by the ekphrastic presentation of the palace weavings, is clearly meant to be attended to in the same way as the conventional ekphrases that it follows.
She is the pivot upon which Ovid symmetrically balances the two artistic contests, one in song and one in fabric: each contest features divine and mortal protagonists, includes a detailed description of the artworks, and concludes with the demise of the mortal artists. We are clearly expected to see the contests and their artworks as a matched set. By means of this linkage Ovid stretches the traditional definition of the appropriate ekphrastic subject, exemplified by the tapestries of Minerva and Arachne, to include the carmina in the singing contest that precedes them.