Taking Liberties: Ovid in Renaissance Poetry and Political Thought


ACLS Fellowship Program




Drawing on political and editorial commentaries, I demonstrate that the rise of the licentious or wanton and innovative poetry associated with Ovid in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century poetry provided a medium for expressing political resistance to the curbs placed on expressive liberties in autocratic and absolutist societies. This study has consequences for the interpretation of poetry's relationship to politics and the critical understanding of classicism in an academic milieu increasingly focused on the present. It presents a poetic and political history that generated, and is in some ways overtaken by, the concept of the modern. Rather than attempt to sort poets into traditionalist and subversive camps, I locate the Ovidian place of revolutionary thoughts in poets from Ariosto to Milton.