Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Benjamin Goldberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brendan Cook, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Helena Szépe, Ph.D.


decorative, instructional, pride, prudence, sensuous


As a result of Ovid’s prominence in Northern Europe from the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries, French adaptations of and commentaries on the Metamorphoses from the late medieval period abound. Here, I address the physical and moral transformation of the Narcissus myth in the tapestry of Narcissus at the Fountain. Specifically, I explore how the tapestry’s presentation of the youth transforms Ovid’s verse in a tantalizing yet moralizing image. To aid in this endeavour, I survey the intermediate sources which inspired said transformation. I argue the lavish clothing, lush garden, ornate fountain, and solemn reflection featured in the tapestry are both decorative and didactic. Whereas the material re-contextualization of the myth evokes empathy, the moral re-contextualization encourages prudence. Thus, the tapestry embodies a peculiar ambivalence: it displays the patron’s status and engages the viewer’s sensorium, while simultaneously alluding to the dangers of pride and sensation.