Presentation Title

Sub Imagine Somni: Ovid’s Dream Words in the Metamorphoses

Project Collaborators

Angeline Chiu (Advisor)

Abstract

When Ovid writes dream scenes, his tendency to use specific words and exclude others in certain scenes can illuminate our understanding of the text and of the dream culture in ancient Rome. In the Metamorphoses, since he has both plot-driving and psychological dream scenes, his use of certain words can indicate these shifts of purpose. Unlike other authors such as Vergil, Ovid uses the consistent word somnus, which can mean either sleep or dream, during each of his seven scenes. Other than this word, Ovid uses eight others: imago (image), nox (night), quies (quiet), simulacrum (apparition), somnifer (dream bringing), sopor (sleep or dreams), umbra (shadow, ghost, shade), and video/visus (see, apparition). Other characteristics such as correspondences and use in the sentence (case) reveal that Ovid has certain preference when he uses these words. For example, the word somnus, the most common word, he tends to use it in prepositional phrases, such as in somnis. Looking at Ovid’s word choice as well as the situations in which he chooses to use them can help inform our translations of the text in these specific contexts to help to differentiate between possibly synonymous words like sopor and somnus and imago, simulacrum, and umbra. This analysis can help to improve our knowledge about dreams and the perception of apparitions and ghosts in mythology.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Angeline Chiu

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Latin

Primary Research Category

Arts & Humanities

Second College (optional)

College of Arts and Sciences

Second Program/Major

Greek

Secondary Research Category

Arts & Humanities

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Sub Imagine Somni: Ovid’s Dream Words in the Metamorphoses

When Ovid writes dream scenes, his tendency to use specific words and exclude others in certain scenes can illuminate our understanding of the text and of the dream culture in ancient Rome. In the Metamorphoses, since he has both plot-driving and psychological dream scenes, his use of certain words can indicate these shifts of purpose. Unlike other authors such as Vergil, Ovid uses the consistent word somnus, which can mean either sleep or dream, during each of his seven scenes. Other than this word, Ovid uses eight others: imago (image), nox (night), quies (quiet), simulacrum (apparition), somnifer (dream bringing), sopor (sleep or dreams), umbra (shadow, ghost, shade), and video/visus (see, apparition). Other characteristics such as correspondences and use in the sentence (case) reveal that Ovid has certain preference when he uses these words. For example, the word somnus, the most common word, he tends to use it in prepositional phrases, such as in somnis. Looking at Ovid’s word choice as well as the situations in which he chooses to use them can help inform our translations of the text in these specific contexts to help to differentiate between possibly synonymous words like sopor and somnus and imago, simulacrum, and umbra. This analysis can help to improve our knowledge about dreams and the perception of apparitions and ghosts in mythology.