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Dancing trees: Ovid's Metamorphoses and the imprint of pantomime dancing

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-169
Number of pages39
JournalAMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHILOLOGY
Volume137
Issue number1
Early online date27 Apr 2016
DOIs
Accepted/In press13 Nov 2015
E-pub ahead of print27 Apr 2016
PublishedApr 2016

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Abstract

This article argues that Ovid's arborization narratives in the Metamorphoses would have been more meaningful, enjoyable, and rich for imperial readers able to visualize them off the page, against the cultural back-cloth of the contemporary stage, that is to say, the pantomime stage, where arboreal transformations were part of the routine repertoire of the star dancers. Ovid's tales of tree-metamorphosis may well have been informed, even if subliminally, by his active recollection of or subconscious familiarity with real-life, danced choreographies for pantomimic transformations into trees.

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