Pushkin's "To Ovid" and Virgil's «Georgics»
The critical ambition to use reception as a means by which to gain new insight cannot invariably be fulfilled, yet it is ever the exceptional cases that prove the matter. I wish to examine what appears to be an extraordinarily pointed allusion to Virgil's Georgics in the final lines of Pushkin's "To Ovid" (1821; published 1823). Allusion to the Georgics is a rare event in Pushkin's work, and critics are generally agreed that Virgil never served Pushkin as a model in the substantial ways that Ovid and Horace sometimes did. I shall consider the empirical evidence that might support or weaken the plausibility of the Virgilian allusion in question. But my concern is mainly to discuss whether the perceived allusion renders the Latin and the Russian passages mutually illuminating—whether it can help us to discern distinctive aspects of Virgil's poem as well as Pushkin's that might otherwise have escaped appreciation.