Abstract

In translating unheimlich, “uncanny,” into Latin, Freud offers a term inseparable from landscape: locus suspectus, “suspicious place.” As this term indicates, certain literary landscapes have the power to unnerve and disorient a reader. Ovid, recognized as a virtuoso of the locus amoenus, is also master of the locus suspectus, constructing uncanny landscapes in the Metamorphoses that provoke the reader's dread and expose our latent existential fears. Taking as a prime example the lair of Invidia at Met. 2.760–764, I demonstrate how Ovid uses intertextual reference and etymological wordplay to endow his setting with dreadful detail that transports the reader to the haunted underworld and to primordial chaos where boundaries collapse. The resulting landscape encapsulates the Freudian concept of the uncanny and so offers a vital counterpart to the locus amoenus in the study of Ovidian landscape.

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