The Poetics of Hunger in Metamorphoses 8

Mariapia Pietropaolo (McMaster University)

Ovid’s personification of Hunger in the story of Ceres' punishment of Erysichthon offers readers of the Metamorphoses an aesthetic experience based on a theme, a narrative and imagery which do not usually elicit delight but revulsion. Ovid depicts Fames as an abject female character capable of fascinating the readers with intellectual engagement and an experience of uncanny delight. A squalid figure, both solid and vacuous, Fames is the personification of the want of something, a paradoxical figure whose physicality is constructed out of emptiness. The personified Fames becomes a weapon for Ceres and attacks Erysichthon, entering him first through his mouth and dispersing her emptiness throughout his body, force-feeding him hunger itself. The imagery and narrative generate in the readers an aesthetic experience of the grotesque. This paper explores Ovid's aestheticization of hunger and the role it plays in the aesthetic project of the Metamorphoses.