The Physics of Poetic Form in Arthur Golding's Translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses

‘This talk, drawn from an in-progress book manuscript entitled Early Modern Literary Physics, argues that we can enrich our understandings of form and formalism if we return to the rich variety of physics of the early modern period. The central object of study will be the relationship between physics and poetics in Arthur Golding’s 1567 English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Though this translation is commonly cast today as the mere work of a moralizing Puritan, Golding claimed that Ovid’s work offered a “dark philosophy of turnèd shapes,” a natural philosophy of substance and change. As Golding translates, he systematically reshapes the physics he finds in Ovid, converting Ovid into a crypto-Neo-Platonist and, in the process, offering a new poetics revolving around the concept of shape. Poetics becomes not just a way of communicating or elaborating physics, in Golding’s translation, but the mechanism for exploring the nature of the universe.’