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The Metamorphoses

The Metamorphoses

by Ovid

Words

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

OK, words are symbols to begin with. (In the sense that a word symbolizes something in the world that it refers to.) But Ovid actually takes this a bit further. He loves calling attention to words, such as place-names, and then using that as an excuse to go into a story about the origin of that name. In this way, words both represent change – because they always lead back to some different, earlier state of affairs – but also the continuity of human memory, since it is words that give us a connection to the past. In addition to his exploration of individual words, Ovid also focuses on language as a key difference between humans and animals.

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