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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Within the 15 books of Metamorphoses, Ovid utilizes clever line structure and poetic devices in order to artistically engage the reader on various levels. Whether it be through clever metaphors the reader can relate to, gripping imagery through hyperbaton, or accentuation through alliteration, Ovid always crafts the Latin text in a way that compliments/enhances the story. For my project, I translated lines 200-235 of Daedalus and Icarus, which is in book VIII of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Within these lines, I identified that Ovid uses anaphoras, alliteration, and caesuras to accentuate important themes and plot points during the story.


One of the ways Ovid effectively builds tension leading into the climax of the story is through the use of abrupt caesuras. In lines 211-212, the phrase “nātō nōn repetenda suō,” is punctuated by a caesura through the use of a comma breaking the line. This pause heightens the reader’s anticipation leading into the story’s climax and further emphasizes that Daedalus’ escape plan has now crossed the line of no return.


Additionally, Ovid utilizes harsh alliteration in conjunction with abrupt caesuras to further underscore the gravity of Daedalus’ final act at the conclusion of the tale. The line “corpusque sepulcrō condidit;”(234-35) demonstrates this technique. The repeated consonant sounds in "corpus" and "condidit" create a harsh and mournful tone, while the abrupt caesura, marked by the semi-colon, emphasizes the finality of Daedalus' actions when burying his son’s body.


Furthermore, Ovid also employs slight variations between repeated lines to add depth to Daedalus’ actions during the climax of the story. An example of this can be seen in lines 232-233, where the tense of the verbs changes from “dīxit” to “dīcēbat”. Both of these verbs are within lines containing an anaphora, which draws the reader’s attention to how both lines do or do not reflect each other. In this case, the shift from the perfect tense “dīxit” to the imperfect tense “dīcēbat” during Daedalus’ cries for Icarus represents how Daedalus’ search initially goes unanswered. The perfect tense is used here: “he said” when calling out Icarus’ name. Eventually the line shifts to “he was saying” just before Daedalus sees Icarus’ body on the waves. This shift in tense emphasizes Daedalus’ growing desperation/anguish while searching for his son and enhances the reader’s anticipation for the reveal of Icarus’ fate to his father.

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