Incest, Cannibalism, Filicide: Elements of the Thyestes Myth in Ovid's Stories of Tereus and Myrrha Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Sorscher, Hannah
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Classics
  • This thesis analyzes key stories in Books 6–10 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses through a focus on the pair of stories that bookend the central section of the poem, the narratives of Tereus and Myrrha. These two stories exemplify the mythic types of the family-centered stories in Books 6–10: Tereus’ is a tale of filicide (specifically, filial cannibalism), while Myrrha’s features incest. Ovid links these stories through themes and plot elements that are shared with the tragedy of Thyestes, a paradigmatic tragic myth encompassing both filial cannibalism and incest, otherwise untold in the Metamorphoses. Through allusions to Thyestes’ myth, Ovid binds together the sequence of human dramas in the poem, beginning and ending with the Tereus and Myrrha stories. Furthermore, the poet reinforces and signals the connections between the stories through textual echoes, lexical formulations, and shared narrative elements.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • James, Sharon
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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