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The Ovide moralisé: The Divine Comedy of Medieval France?

Matthieu Boyd, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Sarah Jane Murray, Baylor University

November 30, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · Robertson Hall, Room 002

Department of French & Italian; Program in Medieval Studies


Matthieu Boyd (’03), Professor of Literature and Chair of the School of the Humanities, Fairleigh Dickinson University

Sarah-Jane Murray (*03), Associate Professor of Great Texts & Creative Writing, Honors College, Baylor University

The anonymous fourteenth-century Ovide moralisé (“Moralized Ovid”) is a translation into French of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and much of the accumulated mythographical commentary in Latin. It gathers many sources and adds to them, forming a massive and coherent, if not seamless, whole that invites comparison with Dante’s masterwork in various ways: its scope (the OM is actually five time longer), its use of the vernacular, its creative relationship to the Classics (the OM is guided by Ovid as Dante is by Virgil), and its Christian mission. Beyond that, without necessarily claiming that the OM matches Dante in poetic elegance, the comparison provokes us to reassess the OM’s place in French and medieval literary history, which has not been properly appreciated since the text could not be read by almost any modern audiences – until now. This presentation is associated with the first-ever modern translation of the Ovide moralisé (Boydell & Brewer, 2023), the result of a collaboration that had its genesis at Princeton. We include discussion of the manuscripts, some of which have now been fully digitized and permit extended study of text-image relations, and the OM’s strategies of translation and interpretation.

This event is sponsored by the Department of French & Italian and the Program in Medieval Studies.

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