A freak in the sheet, a story in the gutter
: Narrative, comics theory, and Ovid's Amores

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comics tell their stories by placing individual images in a sequence, independent and yet inter-dependent panels which work together to build (con)sequential narrativity and narrative. In this thesis, I argue that Latin elegy can be seen to produce its own fragmented narrativity and narratives in analogous ways to comics. Indeed, I will engage with comics narratology in order to answer the question: can a similarly fragmented medium (comics) help us to further unpack the narrative dynamics of Latin elegy? Demonstrating that some of the narratological tools of comics studies when applied to Latin elegy can offer us important new insights, I will ask:

Are the repetitious icons of comics similar to the repetitious themes and motifs found in Latin elegy?

How does the physical architecture of Latin elegy as it appeared on a papyrus scroll contribute to the co-production of story?

Are the gaps which fall between poems analogous to the gutters between a comic’s panels? And, when we read into and across these poetic gutters, (how) do internal elements of poems in a sequence develop narrativity?

To what extent is it possible (and useful) to see elegiac themes and motifs as “braided” in a similar way to Groensteen’s theory of “braiding” in comics?

Can we read ostensibly “anachronous” or outlying poems (such as Ovid Amores 1.13) differently through an application of such comics-based narratological lenses?

In asking these questions, I take as my primary case study Book One of Ovid’s Amores and, applying my novel methodology, I set out to analyse how it is that Ovid creates a complex narrative mosaic in which key characters and motifs repeat across poems, linking up story fragments into a larger unified narrative, a story of arma and amor.
Date of Award22 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorLyndsay Coo (Supervisor) & Genevieve Liveley (Supervisor)


  • Ovid
  • Amores
  • Latin elegy
  • poetics
  • comics
  • narrative

Cite this