The placement of Helenus, the Trojan seer, near the end of Pythagoras’ speech in Ovid’s Metamorphoses 15, humorously comments on the Augustan projection of Rome’s predestined world conquest. In Metamorphoses 15, the philosopher Pythagoras casts himself in the light of the Vergilian Helenus. Among the various common characteristics Helenus and Pythagoras share outstanding is their metaliterary identity as conveyed in an interfusion of comprehensive knowledge, communication of uncontested truth but also adherence to deception: the Ovidian Pythagoras’ speech is ridden with inaccurate information and chronological fallacies, while Ovid’s Helenus is in fact the Vergilian Helenus, a confused individual who lives in the deceptive contentment of an a-chronic world of ghosts. By means of undermining the infallibility of prophesying through the lack of credibility of the prophet, Ovid undermines the standardization of the literary motif of epic prophecies about Rome’s world conquest, a much advertized theme in the various expressions of Augustan ideology of global conquest.
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Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
2020 Volume 60
Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
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