Rescuing Ovid From the Allegorizers - Article
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Rescuing Ovid from the Allegorizers Author(s): Daniel Javitch Source: Comparative Literature, Vol. 30, No. 2 (Spring, 1978), pp. 97-107 Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of the University of Oregon Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1770177 . Accessed: 20/04/2011 21:20Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=uoregon. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]
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VER SINCE the Orlando Furioso first appeared readers have recognized that Ruggiero's rescue of the bound Angelica from the Orca, monster of the sea (X.xci-cxv), is modeled on Perseus' rescue of Andromeda in Ovid's Metamtorphoses (IV.663-764). In one of the earliest printed commentaries to note the imitation, Simon Fornari, in his Spositione sopra lOrlando Furioso (1549-1550), observes: "Nel presente argomento dell'orca divoratrice & d'Angelica legata, e di Ruggiero su'l cavallo volante il nostro poeta imita Ovidio; il quale similmente descrive Andromeda esposta ad essere divorata dal mostro marino; che poi fosse stata liberata da Perseo; il quale dopo ch'ebbe uccisa Medusa venia per l'aria volando con li pennate talari prestatigli da Mercurio."l While Ariosto's invitation to compare the rescue of Angelica with that of Andromeda was taken up from the start, no one has commented on how his use of Ovid's episode radically differs from the treatment it received through the late Middle Ages and right up to the publication of the Furioso. One of Ariosto's marked departures from the original already suggests that he was relying on intervening treatments and alluding to them: his inclusion of the winged horse in the rescue scene. As Fornari correctly notes, Ovid has Perseus fly down on winged sandals, but even though the winged horse Pegasus is associated with Perseus'1 La Spositione sopra I'OrlandoFurioso di M. Ludovico Ariosto (Florence, 1549-50, p. 233. The imitation is already noted by Sebastiano Fausto da Longiano whose commentaryfirst accompaniesthe poem in a 1542 edition.In his Annotationi et Avvertimenti... which were appendedto editionsof the Furioso as early as 1556,GirolamoRuscelli gives the following example, among many, of Ariosto's imitation of episodes drawn from ancient poetry:" ... come Angelica esposta al monstro liberata da Ruggiero su l'Ippogrifo rappresentaAndromeda esposta al monstro liberata da Perseo su'l cavallo Pegaseo." Note Ruscelli's mistaken assumptionthat Pegasus figures in Ovid's scene.
exploits (he is born, Ovid tells us, from the blood of slain Medusa) he does not serve as the hero's means of transport or figure in the rescue of Andromeda. According to classical legend Pegasus belonged to Bellerophon, but at some point in the Middle Ages, as early perhaps as the ninth century, there began a literary and iconographic tradition which mounted Perseus on Bellerophon's winged steed. This mistaken association of Perseus and Pegasus becomes quite common in late medieval treatments of Andromeda's rescue. It can be found in such a widely read medieval version of the Metamorphoses as Berchorius' Ovidius morclizatus, not to mention the fifteenth-century redactions deriving from it.2 In Christine de Pisan's Epitre d'Othea a Hector, another work well known through the fifteenth century, the story of Andromeda's rescue is retold on its own, and there again both the text and the miniatures which often accompanyit in the manuscripts depict Perseus flying down on the winged horse. Pegasus is shown carrying the hero in other illustrations of the rescue scene, from the early ones adorning manuscript texts of Berchorius to the much later woodcut by Bernard Salomon reproduced in the Metamorphose figuree of 1567.3Ariosto's inclusion of the Hippogryph would not have seemed jarring given the well-established if unwarranted presence of Pegasus in medieval accounts and representations of Ovid's scene; what would have jarred any reader familiar with the Perseus-Andromeda episode in the moralized Ovids was every other aspect of Ariosto's imitation. To illustrate how different an Ovid Ariosto invokes I shall first indicate how the rescue of Andromeda was treated in some of the late medieval renditions of the story. The bibliographicalhistory of the various medieval texts which transmit and allegorize Ovid's tales is very complicated, but it is safe to claim that a seminal, representative treatment of Ovid's poem is the Ovidius moralizatus mentioned above. Composed by Petrus Berchorius (Pierre Bersuire) around 1340-42, it must not be confused with one of its sources, the French versified Ovide moralise written earlier in the fourteenth century. Berchorius' work was repeatedly transcribed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was translated into French versions, parts of which were incorporatedin the earliest French Metamorphoses2 See John Steadman, "Perseus upon Pegasus and Ovid Moralized,"RES, 9 (1958), 407-10, and "The 'Ecloga Theoduli,' The 'General Estoria' and the Perseus-BellerophonMyth,"MS, 24 (1962), 384-87.For more commentson the iconographical tradition of mounting Perseus on Pegasus see Carla Lord, "Ovidian Themes in Italian RenaissanceArt," Diss. Columbia1968. 3 Examples of such illustrationscan be found in the manuscriptof Berchorius, Ovidius moralizatus (Bergamo: Biblioteca civica), and that of Christine'sEpitre d'Othea,MS. Harley 4431. See also figures 56 and 57 in M. D. Henkel, "IllustrierBite Ausgaben von Ovids Metamorphosenin xv., xvi., and xvii. Jahrhundert," bliotek Warburg Vortriige 1926-27 (Leipzig, 1930), 58-144. 98
to be printed at the end of the fifteenth century and finally published in its original Latin in at least four Parisian editions between 1509 and 1521. Wrongly attributed to Thomas Walleys, these printed versions of Berchorius were also published in Lyons in the early sixteenth century.4 How is the rescue of Andromeda presented in this text? To begin with, Ovid's verse narrative of over a hundred lines is reduced to a bald prose summary, with Perseus, it will be noted, mounted on a winged horse:Athlante in montemmutatoperseus cum equo suo ascenditaera & cum ab hispania usque ad oppidumquoddamin aethiopiavenisset volandovidit in littore maris andromedam unicamcephei regis filiam & haeredemvinculis virginem pulcherrimam ferreis ad cautes religatama quodammonstroprotinusdeuorandam. Cuius monstri tanta erat magnitudoquodcosta eius postea a tauro romamdeportata.XC. cubitos longitudiniscontinebat.Mater enim puellae caliope praetuleratse in pulchritudine deabus: quaeindignataefiliamillam a beluailla devorandam condemnauerant propter quodrex & populusdefleuerunt eam. Perseus igitur descendens& puellaemisertus: facto pacto quo sibi in vxorem daretursi eam a bestia liberaretcontra horrendam bestiampugnauit: eamqueoccidit & puellamduxit.5
Berchorius' synopsis (or any that follow it) reveals that he wants to convey only Ovid's matter, and only so much of the matter as he requires to provide the Christian signification he sees allegorized in the tale. That, of course, is his main purpose: not simply to impose on Ovid's pagan tales an allegorical meaning, but also to reveal how the truths they disguise are specifically those of Christian theology. One can almost anticipate his reading of this episode, a rescue scene, as yet another allegory of man's salvation through Christ. Indeed, the interpretation that follows his plot summary asks us to see that Perseus is Christ. Upon seeing the maiden's plight, he takes pity on her and comes down from heaven to save her. She, in turn, signifies the human soul, heiress of the heavenly kingdom, tied by infernal chains of sin to the shores of this world and doomed to be devoured by the sea monster, namely the devil, all because of mother Eve's transgression when, upon Satan's promptings, she sought to be equal to God. Perseus' descent also prefigures Christ's incarnation; the pledge to her parents that he will save the girl in exchange for her hand is taken to signify Christ's pact with the patriarchs and pro4 The long article by F. Ghisalberti,"L' 'Ovidius Moralizatus'di Pierre Bersuire,"Studj romanzi,23 (1933), 5-136,remainsthe most valuablestudy of the text and its literary history. For other studies see the bibliographycompiledby J. Engels, "BerchorianaI," Vivarium,2 (1964), 62-124. 5 MetamorphosisOvidianaMoraliter a Magistro Thoma TWalleys .. expla. nata (Parisiis: in aedibus Ascensianis, 1509), fol. xliiir. I cite the text without abbreviationsas it is reprintedin Petrus Berchorius,Reductoriuinmorale, Liber XV, cap. ii-xv, Werkmateriaal2 (Utrecht: Institute for Late Latin, 1962), p. 87.
phets that man's soul will be joined to him in marriage if he rescues it from sin. Perseus' sword stands for the holy cross which served to overcome and slay the devil. With minor variants Berchorius' allegorization became in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries a common reading of Ovid's story. Written in French and appended to a more faithful prose rendition of Ovid's tale, it is found in Colard Mansion's sumptuous version of the Metamorphoses published in Bruges in 1484. This reading of Andromeda's rescue received still wider circulation when Mansion's text was reprinted in Paris by Antoine Verard in 1493. Now entitled La Bible des poetes de Ovide Metamorphose, the text had been republished four times in Paris by 1531. Even in medieval versions of Ovid's poem from the French versified Ovide moralise than from which derive nmore Berchorius the rescue is still taken to allegorize Christ's salvation of the human soul, while the ensuing marriage of Perseus and Andromeda is interpreted as the union of Christ and the holy church.6 In some instances Ovid's allegorizers do not reduce his stories to theological vehicles-they reduce them to Christian moral allegory. An example of such treatment can be found in the moralized Ovid most frequently printed in Italy in the time of Ariosto: the Metamorfoseo volgare of Giovanni di Bonsignori. Originally composed in 1370, it was first published in Venice in 1497 and reprinted at least seven times by 1522. When Bonsignori comes to the end of Ovid's fourth book, he again crudely summarizes the story of Perseus and Andromeda, this time in Italian prose. Less interested in the episode than Berchorius, he initially comments briefly on how in Perseus "se intende lomo virtuoso: el qual ha le pene angeliche. Per la belua intendo el dimonio." But later, after the start of Book V, he finds it necessary to recapitulate the rescue's moral significance: "per Caliope madre de Andromeda: se intende la superbia. per Andromeda che era ligata intendo la mente nobile: laqual per la superbia e remossa e tolta dadio; & ene data ad iurare al6 See Ovid Moralise. Poene du comrmencenent quatorsie'me du ed. siMcle, Cornelius de Boer (Amsterdam, 1920) II, 154, and Ovide Moralise en Prose (Texte du QuinziemeSiecle), ed. C. de Boer (Amsterdam, 1954), p. 168. As I mentioned earlier, the story of Andromeda'srescue is retold at the end of the fourteenthcentury in Christinede Pisan's Epitre d'Othea a Hector but she offers a somewhat different allegorizationof it. The story is the fifth of one hundredepisodesor moments Christine chooses from the stock of classical myth to reveal, by allegorical the interpretation, Christianand moral doctrinewhich must govern the conductof In a would-be"chevalier." Christine'sallegorization,Pegasus is seen as the spiritual knight's good angel who will bear good report of him on the day of judgment while Andromedarepresents his own soul which the knight must free from the fiend by vanquishingsin. Some valuablecommentson Christine'streatmentof this scene as well as reproductionsof the miniatureswhich illustrated it can be found in Rosemond Tuve, Allegorical Imagery (Princeton, 1966), pp. 34-36; see also pp. 36-45,285-311. 100
dimonio: per Perseo intendo la vertu: la quale toglie la mente nobile e divina per sua moglie e sogliela da le mane diabolice con le belle parole."7 Note that both spiritual and moral allegories stress the redemptive doctrine which the tale is assumed to signify. Appended to varying prose versions of the original story, these interpretations become part of the tale and compel the reader to consider the rescue only in terms of the Christian truth it is taken to figure. Ovid's account is usually altered by omitting any aspect which cannot be made to fit the predetermined significance. When the stories cannot be so conveniently reduced, the allegorical meanings imposed on them, ingenious though they are, border on the absurd. Regardless of the success or failure of the allegories, however, Ovid's poem suffers lamentable losses in the process. Solely concerned with the matter of his poem which could be made symbolically relevant to Christian doctrine, the allegorizers neglected to consider the most essential aspect of Ovid's art: his manner of presenting the stories, his narrative style. The medieval habit of imposing Christian allegory on Ovid's stories was so ingrained that it continued to be practiced well into the sixteenth century.8 And the solemn meanings that had become attached to Perseus' rescue of Andromeda continued to be associated with the story when the imitation of it in the Furioso first appeared.Ariosto's imitation must be seen in the light both of the Latin original and of its medieval versions because in the course of recapturing Ovid's original manner the Italian poet also aims to defy the postclassical transformations of Ovid's poetry. His imitation, that is to say, embodies a manifesto about proper ways of reading and using the Metamorphoses. Its implicit rejection of the kinds of reading I have just been illustrating is initially revealed by a deliberate effort to divest his episode and, by association Ovid's, of any allegorical significance. There is no way of totally preventing a fiction from being read allegorically. The interpretations of the Metamorphoses examined above reveal how helpless a text can be at the hands of ingenious exegetes. A determined author, however, can discourage or render absurd attempts to allegorize his narrative. Ariosto does so. The fact that there is nothing7 Ovidio mnetamorphoseos vulgare (Venice: Lucantonio Giunta, 1501), fol. xxxviiv. I cite from the copy owned by the MetropolitanMuseumin New York. 8 Of course, Ovid's original Metamorphosesbecameincreasinglyavailable with the advent of printing and the philological efforts of Italian humanists to restore and annotate the texts of antiquity.The most frequentlyprinted edition of Ovid's Latin poem in the sixteenth century is the Metamorphosesannotatedby Raphael text does not disRegius and first publishedin Venice in 1492. But this "proper" place the allegorized versions. How it coexists with them at least until the 1530s is clearly shown in MadeleineDoran's article, "Some RenaissanceOvids,"in Literatureand Society, ed. Bernice Slote (Lincoln, Neb., 1964), pp. 44-61.
self-contained or unannounced about Angelica's presence and situation inhibits, from the start, the impulse to allegorize. However fantastic her predicament, we know exactly from the developments narrated in Canto VIII what has led her to such a sorry state. And notwithstanding his extraordinary means of transport, which allows two separate strands of plot to meet, Ruggiero is a very human individual already encountered in a variety of situations distinctly different from the present one.9 By clearly delineating the causes of the event, by rationalizing it, and by focusing on its human possibilities the author successfully deemphasizes the improbable and incredible aspects of the story which, had they remained too overt, would readily have encouraged allegorical reading. The effect of these narrative strategies is to make the reader entertain the literal possibility of the fantastic situation, not its improbability. It is remarkable, moreover, that virtually every feature of the episode is linked in some way to Ariosto's enormous plot: the magic ring, for example, which Ruggiero passes over to Angelica has already changed hands several times earlier in the story; the Hippogryph has been and will be ridden by others than Ruggiero; above all, the setting itself with its devouring monster will figure again in the very next canto when Olimpia, another "abbandonata,"must be rescued by Orlando from the same fate. We cannot easily assign to anyone or anything in the episode a single symbolic meaning, for the allegorical sense imposed can obviously be challenged by the different, even contradictory, signification that the same character or same object possesses at some other moment in the poem.10 Ariosto's dramatically shifting, contradictory characters render attempts at allegory particularly futile. His characters simply lack the fixity any allegory requires. Angelica's mutability, for instance, is already notorious enough by the time we encounter her in chains to discourage any tendency to see her as representing the human soul or, for9 Ariosto reasserts Ruggiero's human traits just before the rescue scene when he reminds us that in the course of the fabulous journey Ruggiero takes on the winged horse he manages, like all good tourists, to settle down in comfortable lodgings every night: "Non crediate, Signor, che pero stia per si lungo caminsempresu l'ale: ogni sera all'albergose ne gia, schivandoa suo poter d'alloggiar male." (X.73) 10 It might be argued that the magic ring is one object that seems to possess consistent allegorical meaningat different momentsin the poem. But if it is taken as the "ring of reason"one might well ask why it bestows so little of that virtue on Angelica when she regains possession of it. I would maintain that in this episode Ariosto employs the ring less as a symbolic device than as a narrative one serving to strengthen the connection between the rescue scene and preceding events in the poem. 102
that matter, anything other than a perpetually changing individual. This instability of characterso typical of Ariosto's protagonists is depicted, in the case of Ruggiero, within the episode itself. Indeed, if the context of Ariosto's plot works against allegorizing Angelica's rescue, such an impulse is restrained even more by the immediate context of the event. In its narrative details, Ariosto's depiction of the rescue is similar enough to Ovid's that the scenario may still be mistaken, by a reader so habituated, for an allegory of man's salvation by Christ or of virtue triumphing over evil. But already such departures from Ovid's account as the omission of any marriage vows, the absence of any maternal transgression to explain Angelica's dire punishment, and the fact that the monster is not killed but only stunned, defy the ingenious equations with Christian doctrine devised by Ovid's allegorizers. What ultimately inhibits any remaining allegorical impulse, however, is the immediate outcome of the rescue. I refer, of course, to Ruggiero's ludicrous attempt to rape Angelica once the naked girl is in his hands. Both episode and canto, it will be recalled, end with Ruggiero's frenetic effort to rid himself of his armor as he tries to ravish Angelica. This comic resolution of the rescue best exemplifies how the radical shift of behavior in the poem's protagonists serves the author's antiallegorical stratagems. Obviously, no solemn Christian meanings still invested in the damsel's valiant savior can survive the transformation of his character we are made to witness. The persistent reader who may still seek in the tale a figurative account of the soul's resurrection finds himself confronted, at the end of it, with nothing but the resurrected flesh, a more dire likelihood in the world depicted in the Orlando Futrioso. Although Ruggiero's attempt at rape may seem a marked departure from Ovid's account, its appropriatenessbecomes clearer when one considers the features of the Latin original Ariosto considers it so important to capture. Up to this point, I have been examining the postclassical uses of Ovid which Ariosto implicitly seeks to banish. But what aspects of Ovid's poetry does he seek to restore? It is, unsurprisingly, the style and artistry of the poet neglected by his allegorizers and so indispensable a part of his literary contribution. Above all, Ariosto reinstates one of the most characteristic aspects of Ovid's narrative art: its mixture of style and tone, particularly the wit and playfulness which infuse and so often undermine the momentous events described.11 It would be impossible to gather from the summaries of the Perseus11For some of my ensuing remarkson Ovid's poetry I am indebtedto my colleague Professor Robert Hanning. I have also benefitedfrom two recent essays by Charles Segal on Ovid's playful treatment of myth: "Ovid's Metamorphoses: Greek Myth in Augustan Rome," SP, 68 (1971), 371-94; and "Narrative Art in the Metamorphoses," 66 (1971), 331-37. CJ,103
Andromeda episode handed down by the allegorizers that Ovid presented it in a less than serious manner. Yet the original narrative immediately discloses the poet's playful intent. Consider how he describes Perseus' initial reaction upon seeing the chained girl, and the exchange that follows it. By delicately observing her windblown hair, the tears streaming down her cheeks (IV.673-75), Ovid reminds us as well as Perseus that Andromeda is not a statue but a beautiful living creature. It is the first clue to his concern for the human and erotic rather than the epic possibilities of the incident. So heart-struck is our hero by Andromeda's loveliness that for a moment he forgets to beat his wings (IV.677)-a comic detail that would be more appropriate in a cartoon strip than in a heroic tale. And the chains that bind the girl to her awful fate, chains that for the allegorizers symbolized the soul's dire bond to sin, merely offer Perseus an occasion to flirt with the conceit that love's chains are the only burden she should have to bear (IV.678-79). She, in turn, a well-bred girl, hesitates to address a stranger and would cover her face if her hands were not tied to the rock-a touch made all the more amusing by the fact that the girl is stark naked. Ariosto will, of course, appropriate virtually all these details in his account of Ruggiero's initial encounter with Angelica:Credutoavria che fosse statua finta o d'alabastroo d'altri marmi illustriRuggiero, e su lo scoglio cosi avinta
per artificiodi scultori industri; se non vedea la lacrimadistinta tra fresche rose e candidiligustri far rugiadosele crudettepome, e l'aura sventolarl'auratechiome . . . e dolcementealia donzella disse, poi che del suo destrierfreno le penne: -O donna,degna sol de la catena con chi i suoi servi Amor legati mena, e ben di questoe d'ognimale indegna, chi e quel crudelche con voler perverso livor stringendosegna d'importuno di questebelle man l'avorioterso ?_12 (X.96-98)
And when, as he continues to imitate Ovid, Ariosto describes the naked Angelica's bashfulness about being so exposed to an unknown man (9899), the girl's futile attempt to cover herself becomes all the funnier12 Lodovico Ariosto, OrlandoFurioso, a cura di Remo Ceserani (Turin, 1962), I, 346-47.
given what we know of the sexual calamities she has already experienced earlier in the poem. Ovid achieves his playful effects in various ways. One typical ploy, obviously cherished and imitated by Ariosto, is to violate decorum by emphasizing the normal, banal, and often erotic impulses of characters engaged in solemn and larger-than-life exploits. Irreverence as well as wit ensues from this humorous collocation of the all-too-human and the superhuman since the grandeur of the heroic or mythical event is inevitably undermined in the process. Thus, in both the rescue scenes I am examining, the hero's flirtatious but everyday banter with the exposed heroine, which is incongruously placed in the midst of the most fantastic situation, makes it impossible to take the ominous threat of the monster or the fierce struggle that follows as seriously as the story may originally have asked. And even when the heroic battle is under way, epic similes notwithstanding, Ovid will once more ensure that we remain skeptically detached by his sudden concern with a logistic difficulty besetting the hero-Perseus' inability to stay airborne because his winged feet have gotten so drenched by the monster's spray (IV.730)--a small but rational consideration which suffices to make us smile as it prevents us from getting too absorbed in the struggle. Ariosto, who rarely misses any of Ovid's subversive tactics, will develop the problem of waterlogged wings to more comic proportions when he describes Ruggiero's encounter with the beast: Si forteellanelmarbattela coda, chefa vicinoal ciell'acqua inalzare; tal chenonsa se l'alein ariasnoda, o purse '1suodestrier nuota mare. nel che a Glie spesso disiatrovarsi proda; ha chese lo sprazzo tal modo a durare, in temesl l'aleinaffi all'ippogriffo, chebrami invano avereo zuccao schifo. (X.106) By shifting from the hyperbolic description of the monster splashing heaven to Ruggiero's very pressing concern about a drenching his winged steed cannot withstand, Ariosto succeeds in bringing out the potential ridiculousness of the fierce encounter-if only for a moment. Such rapid shifts of perspective, of tone, the ability to entertain incompatible views simultaneously, have often been recognized as basic features of Ariosto's disconcerting narrative manner. Yet when we see, in the episode at hand, how many instances of this habitual mode are inspired by Ovid's example, we can recognize how indebted Ariosto's style is to the Latin poet's. The basic kinship between their styles is affirmed all the more when we note that despite Ariosto's obvious imitation of105
Ovid, he has not had to alter his usual voice or manner, firmly established now after ten cantos. These remarks bring me back to Ariosto's surprising resolution of Angelica's liberation. In one sense there is nothing in Ovid's account which warrants the hero's attempt to ravish the girl he saves, as it occurs in the Italian poem. But in another sense this unexpected and jarring outcome of the rescue operation can be seen as an amplificationof Ovid's smaller but similarly incongruous effects. Have we not just observed how Ovid achieves these effects by dwelling on all-too-human or erotic reflexes of his heroic or mythical characters? What else is Ariosto doing when he transforms Ruggiero from a savior to a ravisher but enlarging on Ovid's technique? We have been partly prepared for a romantic outcome of Ruggiero's rescue by the hero's initial amorous conduct. But that the desire prompted by Angelica should erupt in an attempted rape is quite unexpected, farcical, and yet disturbingly possible. The disturbance attests that when the poet exploits here as elsewhere the ludicrous possibilities of pathetic or epic situations-and this is genuinely Ovidian -he seeks to prompt more than laughter. I do not want to burden Ariosto's or Ovid's wry humor unduly but in both authors the mixture of style, genre, and therefore of tones is surely consistent with their vision of an unstable, indeed a chaotic world, totally unpredictable except for its constant changes. In both poets, these mixtures aim to challenge single literary representations of reality as well as the reassuring vision of order and permanence often assumed in such constructs. Not that Ovid and Ariosto are finally dismayed by the mutability they perceive and represent. On the contrary, instability inspires both poets; it allows them, paradoxically, to assert the shaping and controlling power of their art. Nevertheless, their fluctuating styles which serve to depict the flux of the world question the validity of fixed symbolic images of reality. When I began considering Ariosto's defiance of Ovid's moralizers I pointed to the antiallegorical devices he uses to discourage a symbolic reading of his Ovidian episode. I did not, however, discuss a most effective way of frustrating the allegorical temper: namely, emphasizing and amplifying the subversive manner Ovid himself employs in presenting the story. For Ariosto correctly perceived that the very mode in which Ovid reshaped his mythical matter was meant to divest it of deep seriousness and symbolic force. To reduce the Metamorphoses, as the medieval allegorizers did, to its matter, resulted in a total neglect of Ovid's playful and imaginative treatment of its mythical stories. And if the stories, reduced as they were, could barely support the Christian interpretations imposed on them, allegorization would have been much more senseless had Ovid's urbanity and irreverent skepticism been taken into106
account. It is precisely the skepticism coloring Ovid's playful treatment of serious myths which Ariosto found so compatible and so necessary to reassert. By relying on the Latin poet's very tactics to dispel allegorical readings of Angelica's liberation Ariosto is saying, in effect, that the Metamorphoses, when read in their proper spirit, challenge the sacramental views of the universe which prompt allegorical interpretation to begin with. The act of restoring Ovid's manner serves as a humorous way of exposing the distortion his poetry had suffered until the Furioso could help rescue it. I do not want to end without emphasizing that Ariosto's imitation seeks above all to reproduce the comic effects of Ovid's cultivated wit. If his exaggeration of this wit also succeeds in frustrating allegorical impulses, primarily it aims to make us laugh. Of course Ariosto wants us to recognize that his mockery of the medieval allegorizers contributes an added dimension to the fun. I have dwelled on his defiance of the allegorizers to show how much the comedy at the end of Canto X is achieved at their expense. In fact this subtle mockery allows Ariosto to outdo Ovid even as he restores his style, for he can intensify Ovid's witty treatment of serious myth by playing against the intervening Christian allegorical tradition which was obviously not available to the Roman poet. His humorous repudiationof this tradition ultimately provides the added comic dimension by which the imitation surpasses its classical model. Columbia University