Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Aníbal Biglieri


My dissertation analyzes the role of Ovid’s Heroides in Alfonso X’s General Estoria, a massive historical compilation in six volumes that the “Learned King” commissioned in 1272. The way in which eleven of these fictional epistles were incorporated by the Alfonsine translators sheds light on how ancient texts were perceived by medieval scholars. According to the study, King Alfonso relies on Ovid as an accurate historical source and uses the epistles of the heroines as historical documents while preserving their literary dimension.

The thesis is divided into six sections. Chapter one introduces the topic of translation in relation to history and literature and argues for the use of a culturesemiotic perspective in the study of medieval translations. Chapter two looks into the General Estoria in order to frame the generic register/s to which the Heroides and Ovid belonged in Alfonso’s historic discourse. Some of these issues include literature and its historical value, and how the ancient past (in this case the times of characters in the Heroides) was used in order to investigate and interpret the concerns of the present, and form decisions about the future. Chapter three speculates on the bearing that the habitus or socio-cultural conditioning of a potential translator like Archbishop Jiménez de Rada could have had in the Alfonsine approach to translation. Chapter four analyzes the uses of and references to Ovid as a writer and his works throughout Europe in order to recreate the position both him and his works held in the socio-cultural milieu of thirteenth-century literature, history, epistolography, and rhetoric. Chapter five focuses on how the Latin text was initially adapted and segmented according to translation patterns and norms.

This observational analysis of the Heroides in the GE approaches the text from the perspective of the discipline of Descriptive Translation Studies (DTS). My research does not seek to propose or refute any theories but, rather, to make a contribution to DTS in the form of an observational analysis.



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