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Medusa, OVIDIUS in Metamorfose, University Library KULeuven, 21 NOV 2019 - 16 FEB, 2020

Sparkling, slightly ironic, a master narrator. Publius Ovidius Naso, commonly known as Ovid, will always remain one of the most important writers from classical antiquity. Not only was he the most prolific of all Latin poets, he also kept innovating. Instead of simply adopting the elegiac model, the poetic meter that his predecessors had created, he varied his style. He is often considered the last of the great Latin poets under Emperor Augustus.

His most famous poem is the Metamorphoses or 'transformations'. Appropriately, the mythological protagonists in Ovid's fifteen-book poem undergo all kinds of transformations. His poetry evokes a dream-like world, where Amor is always lurking around the corner and myths are chasing one another.

The exhibition in the University Library is the result of a collaboration between KU Leuven Libraries and the Royal Library (KBR). Curator Michiel Verweij (KBR) guides us through Ovid's life and work.

Ovid's time in Rome is evoked by an impressive scale model of the Forum Romanum. The model is surrounded by manuscripts with the works of Horace and Virgil, who were Ovid's contemporaries.

We focus on Ovid's writings: the Amores, Heroides, Ars amatoria, Fasti, and the works that he wrote as an exile in the remote town of Tomis. You can admire his works in the form of Latin manuscripts, translations, printed books, and engravings. Most of these items have come over from the KBR. They are complemented with items from KU Leuven Libraries (such as the engraving above) and other institutions.

Most attention goes to Ovid's famous Metamorphoses. Unfortunate Narcissus, Pyramus and Thisbe's tragic love, Midas' unfortunate greed, Phaeton's fatal ambition, Apollo's burning passion for Daphne, Daedalus and Icarus' fateful flight, Actaeon's horrific demise, and Niobe's deadly bluster.

Medieval manuscripts, incunables, and rare books bring these stories to life. Paintings, sculptures, and curiosities show how Ovid's Metamorphoses remained a source of inspiration for many artists throughout the ages. Among the most eye-catching pieces in this regard is the series of 50 engravings by Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617).

Contemporary artist Koen Vanmechelen is also invited to present his version of the Medusa.

EXHIBITION FACTS 21 November 2019 - 16 February 2020

Open every day from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed on December 25th and January 1th. On 24 December and 31 December, the exhibition closes at 2 PM.

University Library Ladeuzeplein 21 3000 Leuven Belgium Visit the KULeuven website for more information


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