Written on Running Water: Ovidian Poetics in the Roman Waterscape
Langley, Bridget Alice
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Written on Running Water: Ovidian Poetics in the Roman Waterscape analyzes the symbolic value of water in Ovid’s poetry and considers how this was affected by the reorganization of the Roman water supply under Augustus. Agrippa and Augustus gained enormous political capital by restructuring and coordinating the city’s hydraulic infrastructure, and they altered the Roman landscape and the cultural significance of water in ways that would profoundly influence the building programmes and self-promotion of later emperors. I show that the abundance and beauty of the city’s new waterscape also affected Ovid’s use of images such as the fountain of inspiration and the locus amoenus, and came to represent the ideal aquatic environment. Taking a broad view of Ovid’s water poetics, I examine his depictions of Roman hydraulic infrastructure, his representations of water systems outside of the city, and the transformative waters of the Metamorphoses which challenge human attempts to control nature. Throughout his oeuvre, Ovid harnesses the power of water to figure his life and his poetic activity. I show that the basis for these images can be found in the newly transformed waterscape of the city of Rome.