ABSTRACT

Ovid's narratives of metamorphosis offer a repertoire of individual and collective changes that enabled John Gower to account for the 1381 revolt in Visio Anglie. Most of the scholarship on the Visio has discussed the poet's traditionalism. The traditionalism of the rebels, in contrast, has been well documented by historians but is often ignored by literary scholars. This paper explores the ideological symbiosis between the traditionalism of the poet and that of the rebels. Through close readings of Ovidian allusions in Visio, this article argues that Gower's archaized Ovidian voices, unlike the peasants' romanticization of the past, affirm a belief in historical flexibility. Gower adapts Ovid to highlight historical perspectives that reverse monstrosities, thereby acknowledging collective guilt. Through textual overlays, he also combines the Edenic and the apocalyptic—the two ends of history—to reveal that there is no static idealized past to which to return.

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