chapter  8
19 Pages


PARODY: OVID ON FISHING Ovid's Halieutica is inchoate. Its 134 lines lack a proper introduction and, markedly, the nomination of an addressee. There is no proper conclusion, and neither are there, as part of the body of the poem, the sorts of didactic elements which we have come to expect: descriptions of dangerous fish, theirs and other fishes' social habits, the tools which fishermen use to catch them, and so forth. Yet there is enough of the Halieutica to enable us to gain an idea of how it went about things. Some of this can be deduced from examining the topical structure of the poem (following de Saint-Denis 1975; cf. Richmond 1962): I Every animal has its means of self-protection (1-9) II Fish protect themselves byars (9-48) III Land animals protect themselves through timoror non sana ferocia;

racing horses may be compared, but dogs seem to exhibit a measure of sagax virtus (49-81)

coastal fish, 118-34) (94-134). To judge from this summary, Ovid, if in fact it was Ovid who wrote this poem (denied by Wilkinson 1955: 363), is clearly less interested in instruction (of which the poem possesses litde) than in play and in dramatizing a contrast between learned and instinctual behaviour.