Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Gervais, Kyle


An important text for understanding Ovidian reception in the Middle Ages is John of Garland’s Integumenta Ovidii, a 13th century Latin poem that allegorizes the myths of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The Integumenta has received little scholarly attention, with the most recent edition having been published in 1933. This thesis seeks to improve upon the understanding of the poem’s text, transmission, and allegorical interpretations by closely studying the first 118 lines, Garland’s allegorization of Book 1 of the Metamorphoses. The project includes collations of six previously unexamined manuscripts, an edition considering readings from the new manuscripts and from the ten additional manuscripts recorded in past editions, an English translation, an introduction, and a commentary discussing the textual, contextual, and interpretive issues of the poem.

Summary for Lay Audience

In France during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a scholarly tradition of interpreting literature from the ancient world – including work of scripture, philosophy, historiography, and poetry – as allegorical stories with underlying truths emerged. One of these works that was often explained through the lens of allegory was Ovid’s Metamorphoses, an extremely influential Latin epic poem from 1st century Rome that tells ancient myths of the world and mythological characters changing their forms. A text that explains Ovid’s myths as stories with various allegorical meanings is the Integumenta Ovidii, a thirteenth century poem by John of Garland, a Master at the University of Paris.

The poem, like most ancient or medieval texts that survive to the modern day, was preserved and distributed through copies in manuscripts. The copying was done by hand by human scribes, and as a result, these manuscripts would often include changes to the original poem through natural human error. Therefore, these manuscripts each have a slightly different version of John’s original poem. Of the manuscripts that contained the full poem, ten had been collated (read through carefully with all textual differences recorded) by other scholars, who, with their collated data, printed editions of the poem with the “correct” readings.

For my project, I have collated six previously unexamined manuscripts, and edited a new text using both these new manuscripts, and the ten recorded by others for the poem’s first 118 lines (John’s allegorization of Book 1 of the Metamorphoses). I have written a clear English translation of the Latin, and a commentary that explains my decisions in editing the text and the meanings of John’s allegories. There are also introductory essays with contextual information. With its updated text, new translations, and thorough commentary, my thesis advances an improved understanding of John’s Integumenta, contributing to our knowledge of the poem’s manuscript transmission, scholarship in the medieval university, and Ovidian reception.