Briseis' Elegiac Failure in Heroides 3

  • Author / Creator
    Glaicar, Brieanne T
  • Ovid’s Heroides is unique for its presentation of female speech. It is a collection of letters written in elegiac couplets, each one narrated by a different mythological heroine. Each heroine is familiar to Ovid’s audience because she has already appeared in works of other authors. Each letter is unique and the ways in which the heroines express themselves is distinct. Although each letter is narrated by a heroine, they are truly authored by Ovid and therefore, each heroine’s speech is bound to Ovid’s own motivations. This creates a constant tension within each text that is the product of the long-established literary tradition and the heroines’ interpretation of their roles within the literary tradition. This relationship allows for Ovid to embed dramatic irony into each letter and showcase his authorial wit. This wit is realized in Heroides 3, a letter from Briseis, a captive woman, sent to Achilles, the greatest of the Greek soldiers. Ovid allows Briseis an opportunity for speech that is limited in her original text, Homer’s Iliad. My thesis will examine the relationship between Briseis’ epic experience and the construction of her doomed elegiac letter in Heroides 3. Ultimately, I will argue that Briseis’ failure as an elegiac puella is not the result of her attempt at elegiac speech, but of her audience. In an exercise of his authorial power and wit, Ovid elects to retain Achilles’ harsh epic nature thereby setting Briseis up for elegiac failure.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Ancient Societies and Cultures
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Stewart, Selina ( History and Classics)
    • Nagel, Rebecca (History and Classics)
    • Stewart, Christine ( English and Film Studies)
    • Pownall, Frances ( History and Classics)