– mente deos adiit
(Ovid, Met. 15.63)
This paper examines the reception of Ovid’s representation of the figure of Pythagoras in the works of Ausonius and Martianus Capella. Why Ausonius and Martianus Capella? The answer to this question has as much to do with the subsequent history of the figure of Pythagoras in medieval Latin literature as with Ovid’s own influence on both authors. For Ausonius and Martianus are typical of and, to a large degree, determinative for the representation of Pythagoras as a mathematician, musician and, generally, ethical sage common in late-antique and medieval literature and art. Moreover, Ovid’s stylistic influence on both authors is well-known, and both write enough about Pythagoras to offer fitting test-cases, as it were, to evaluate whether what I see as significant in Ovid’s representation is also of concern in later authors.
Pythagoras does not appear often in Ovid, but at the end of the Metamorphoses (15.75-478) he makes a lengthy...