chapter  6
17 Pages

Eroticism Under a Watchful Eye

Censorship and Alteration of Woodcuts in Ovid's Metamorphoses Between the Fifteenth and the Sixteenth Centuries
WithGiuseppe Capriotti

More than any other poem in the Western tradition, Ovid’s Metamorphoses has offered artists a wealth of narrative material from which to depict all shades of love and sexual desire. Indeed, the theme of eroticism is the poem’s most powerful element of continuity, running throughout the text and linking each episode. This chapter develops Ginsburg’s remarks by analysing the ambiguous reception of the woodcuts featured in several printed editions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, published in Italy between the end of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It examines the complex phenomenon in which prints that were regarded as erotic were altered through acts of both public and private censorship. The chapter analyses the woodcuts featured in the five volumes published in the sixteenth century: two Latin editions of Ovid’s Metamorphoses with a comment by Raffaele Regio; a vernacular edition of Ovidio Metamorphoseos vulgare; a specimen of the translation of the Metamorphoses; and a copy of the Trasformationi.