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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

A fascination with Ovid is one of the distinctive features of later Elizabethan literature. The first substantial original work to make prominent use of Ovid in the period is George Gascoigne's The Steel Glass with The Complaint of Philomene (1575). It is especially interesting and unusual because, as later poets would do, it uses Ovid for political ends. Indeed, it couples Ovid with Lucilius, the outspoken Republican satirist, as its twin classical inspirations. Gascoigne uses moralizing in the service of qualities we appreciate today: purposeful ambiguity, complexity, and a ludic irony, enabling him to criticize authority while evading censorship. All this makes it deeply Ovidian in ways which reach far beyond the translations of the 1560s and yet which are quite different from later Elizabethan epyllia.

Keywords: Ovid, George Gascoigne, Elizabethan literature, George Gascoigne

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