Ovid's Ceres and the courtship of Adonis in Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis

Claire Coupe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In Venus and Adonis, Venus's trespass on earth impinges on the territory of Ceres, inasmuch as her pursuit of Adonis may be likened to the forcing of the harvest. The ensuing battle is reminiscent of Ovid's retelling of the same tale in the Metamorphoses, and places Shakespeare's Venus and Ceres in a conflict that is traceable from Venus and Adonis, his first published success, to the end of his career. The pattern of insult and atonement that characterizes Venus's interactions within the poem helps to explain her transition from selfish to maternal love. In this sense, Shakespeare's sensitivity to (but eventual rejection of) Ovid's hopeful use of the myth of Ceres and Proserpina is evident in his depiction of Venus as a mother goddess intent on 'spoiling the sowing'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-107
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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