Exile of Ovid
Ovid, the Latin poet of the Roman Empire, was banished in 8 CE from Rome to Tomis (now Constanţa, Romania) by decree of the emperor Augustus. The reasons for his banishment are not known. Ovid's exile is related to us by the poet himself, and also in a brief reference to the event by Pliny the Elder and Stachys. At the time, Tomis was a remote town on the edge of the civilised world; it lay beyond the Danube, loosely under the authority of the kingdom of Thrace (a satellite state of Rome), and was superficially Hellenized. According to Ovid, none of its citizens spoke Latin, which as an educated Roman he found trying. Ovid wrote that the cause of his own exile was carmen et error: carmen, "a poem", namely the Ars Amatoria; and error, an indiscretion or mistake of his own.
Ovid was one of the most prolific poets of his time, and before being banished had already composed his most famous poems – Heroides, Amores, Ars Amatoria, Remedia Amoris, Medicamina Faciei Femineae, his lost tragedy Medea, the ambitious Metamorphoses and the Fasti. The latter two works were left, respectively, without a final review and unfinished. In exile, the poet continued producing works, and wrote some more that survive today: Ibis, Tristia, Epistulae ex Ponto, and possibly several other, minor poems. These works contain letters to friends and enemies, and also depict the poet's treatment by the Scythians – particularly Getae, a nomadic people.
The exile of Ovid – both his persona and his works in exile – has served as a literary influence to Latin writers who also experienced exile, such as Seneca to Boethius, and as a central point of reference for the Middle Ages imaginings of exile, passing through Romanticism and its tendency to theorize about the misunderstood genius. Today, Ovid's exile is used by classicists to evaluate the policy and actions of Augustus, and is also used to study whether the exile was merely a farce, a misrepresentation by Ovid, or a rhetorical and literary device.
In 8 CE, the year of the exile, Ovid was 50 years old and it's believed that he enjoyed a great fame in Rome[a] — the generation of Virgil (19 BCE) and Horace (8 BCE) having ended, some scholars write that he was then the most famous poet in the city.
Thus, the poet who had written in verses the radical change experienced by Men in the strange sensation that often accompanies humanity — the eminence of losing everything — between the wonderful Golden Age and the unfortunate Iron Age, left for exile.
Ovid chose his banishment as subject for his last three works of poetry: the Ibis, a "venomous attack on an unnamed enemy", and the Tristia and the Epistulae ex Ponto, two collections of literary epistles centred around the experience of the poet's exile. All these works were written in Tomis.
The Ibis, an elegiac curse poem attacking an adversary at home, was written during his journey to the exile place. According to some scholars, this work was "literary rather than personal". In fact, Callimachus had written a poem with the same tile attacking on Apollonius of Rhodes. Caelius Rhodiginus (Antiq. Lect. xiii. 1) says, on the authority of Caecilius Minutianus Apuleius, that the enemy was Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus.
The five-books of the elegiac Tristia are dated to 9-12, during the first four years of Ovid's banishment. It's a series of poems expressing the poet's despair in exile and advocating his return to Rome. It advocating goes perhaps too far when he compares his works to those of Augustus's favourite, Virgil, particularly with his magnum opus Aeneida The tenth elegy of the fourth book is valuable as containing many particulars of Ovid's life.
The Epistulae ex Ponto, a series of letters explicitly addressed to friends in Rome asking them to effect his return, are thought to be his last compositions, with the first three books published in 13 CE and the fourth book later between 14-16 CE. Some of these "poetic" letters were sent to friends as Cotta Maximus, to his wife, and for the emperor himself. The Epistulae have perhaps his last verses that came to us: "Where’s the joy in stabbing your steel into my dead flesh?/ There’s no place left where I can be dealt fresh wounds."
There is also an inchoate poem entitled Halieutica — about the "rules for fishing in rocky, sandy or open waters, distinguishing the kinds of fish which haunt each", probably written in compliance with local fishermen. However, the real authorship of this work is much debated: denied or just duvidade by some scholars.
His works of exile, principally the Tristia and the Epistulae, are marked by three main topics:
- 1. To bring pity, through descriptions of hazards and inclement city Tomos, and of the physical, mental and social wellbeing, as Ovid was old, sick and away from his family and the pleasures of Rome;
- 2. To defend their cause, referring repeatedly to the attitude that led to the exile as a stupid, without any malicious intent, and his offense, as an error;
- 3. To compliment the emperor, either directly (by insisting on their qualities, especially the Notice), or indirectly through their family or the successes of the Empire in their campaigns.
Causes of the exile
According to Ovid himself
View of the mainstream scholars
Scholars agree that the cause of the exile is never fully explained, but often attach a political reason that involves the famous changing of the poet literary production. According to a large part of it, the charge against Ovid was maiestas, the crime of lèse majesté. Most believe that the "Carmen", it is, the "poem" that Ovid refers is the Ars Amatoria: thus, Augustus — the restorer of the Roman public morality — could not fail to punish the author of a work with which he converted himself as master of adultery and obscenity. In fact, there is an ample literature that supports this idea. Moreover, what was Ovid's mistake? There are many hypotheses for the scholars, including:
- have attended some circles of opposition to the emperor, as that of Fabius Maximus;
- have gone to the house of Augustus at the time that, after learning of a disaster, suffered an attack of cholera so horrible that Ovid would ridicule the emperor in epigrams of clandestine movement;
- have discovered the incest Augustus had with his daughter Julia;
- have been witness to the adultery of Julia;
- have conspired with Fabius Maximus to restore the right of succession imperial Posthumus Agrippa, grandson of Augustus, among others.
Many scholars tend, carrying, believe that the Art of Love was a mere pretext to conceal the real cause of the condemnation of Ovid, considering the enormous amount of time between the publication of this work (20 BC) and the sentence of Augustus (8 after Christ). To give substance to this hypothesis, some authors also adds that it was no more indecent than many publications by Propertius, Tibullus and Horace circulating freely in that time. Scholars who agree with these ideas also believe that, foreseeing the consequences of the themes of his first poems, Ovid changed his artistic career to work as more than: Metamorphoses, with the deitification of Julius Caesar and the glorification of Augustus, and the Fasti, which are dedicated to Roman festivals of his time.
The obscure causes of the Ovidian exile have given rise to endless explanations from scholars studying Antiquity. Truly, there are many scholars who have written denying the loyalty of this exile. In 1923, a non-famous theory first mooted by J. J. Hartmann argues that Ovid never left Rome to the exile and that all of his exile works are the result of his fertile (and joking) imagination — this theory was supported and rejected in the 1930s, especially by Dutch authors.[b] In 1951, a similar theory, proposed by O. Janssen, argued that the poet's exile is a poetic fiction.
If these theories are correct, we have perhaps an unprecedented case in the history of literature. The 1951 theory was reviled by Martin Helzle of Illinois and revived in a 1985 article by A. Fitton Brown. The reasons argued by Brown are basically:
- 1. the reasons for the exile and its chosen place, which has no rational explanation for a look that makes us to seek reasons only the work of Ovid himself, except doubtful passages in Pliny the Elder and Stachys, and that nothing read in Tacitus, Suetonius or in any other author until the beginning of the 5th century (the author acknowledges the fragility of the usual argumentum ex silentio, but considers that, in this case, the lack of information is a particularly significant given).
- 2. Ovid provides information about the geography of Tomis (climate, landscape, customs and descriptions of the celestial motions), or do not line up with reality, corresponding to literary topics, while others may have been taken from Virgil or his Metamorphoses itself,[d] and all the correct information may have received them byinternational sources, some of which are identifiable.
- 3. the poet that knew to separate the poetic author in epistolary epic I could very well repeat this technique to invent their own exile — on the other hand, the possibilities that such literary fiction were opened almost inexhaustible, and a reading devoid of prejudice the work of the exile of Sulmonensis shows us how effectively the poet knew extract these possibilities that the poetic game offered to him.
The Brown's article was followed by a series of supports and refutations in a short space of five years. Through this hypothesis, was opened a debate to find out if the ancient poets writing really about historical facts, and was used, for example, Catullus 16 where Catullus writes about the separation between poet and poetry. Modern authors suggest that the Ovid treatment to Augustus in Tristia, chiefly as a character and only the secondary address, reminds us that these are letters literature first and foremost: "we can not assume that they are intended conseguir an actual reccall." Gareth D. Williams, for example, vies Augustus as the addresse in Tr. 2 throughout the poem both as a character in the third person and via a number of apostrophes, but he is not technically the addresse of the poem, while Ovid's books are (Tr. 2.1-2). These idea see the principal theme of Tr. 3 more that of poetry than political recall. Rather, it seems that Ovid wants "to muthologize his exiled situation".
Fasti and Ibis
The orthodox scholars, however, are opposed to all these hypotheses. One of the main arguments of these scholars is that Ovid wouldn't let his Fasti unfinished, mainly because this poem meant his consecration as imperial poet: most researchers agree that this work is the clearest testimony of support of Augustan ideals by Ovid, although some authors such as Martin and Porte detected in the passage 3.371-80 of the Fasti an Ovidian attitude contrary to the wishes of Augustus to his succession. In fact, some authors believe that of all the poets of the generation of Augustus, Ovid was the youngest and perhaps the most unrelated to any "Augustan" ideas.
Traditionally, it is argued that being far from Rome, Ovid had no access to libraries, thus might have been forced to abandon the Fasti poem about the Roman calendar, of which exist only the first six books (January through June), and the workmanship, or final review, to the Metamorphoses. Fasti is, in fact, unfinished. Metamorphoses was already completed in the year of exile, missing only the final revision. (In exile, Ovid said he never gave a final review on the poem.) However, parts of this two poems may have been rewritten by him in Tomis while Heroides 16-21 may have been entirely composed during his exile.
However, this hypothesis of a lack of scholarly documentation does not seem able to stand when we think of development, in Tomis, a poem so far-fetched as In ibin, with its entire cargo of mythological encyclopedic knowledge of the way of Alexandria. Other authors, also, believe that the enemy in Ibis isn't a real person. There is, in any case, another explanation for the abandonment of writing the Fasti. Some authors, such as B. R. Nagle, suggest the possibility that Ovid harbored the ideiade write this book right from the year 8 BC, when Augustus, the new Pontifex Maximus, corrected the defects resulting from the introduction of the Julian calendar. Nagle also argues that some political motivations may have caused the poet to dissociate their work, from the year 4 AD, when Tiberius is adopted by Augustus and therefore implicitly named successor to the Principality and that Ovid may have lost enthusiasm in finding that their work in praise of Caesar and his dynasty juliana should be modified to accommodate deeply and enter the symbology of the lineage of Claudius. Thus, the poet may have just started a different work, a work that offers the perfect literary excuse for abandoning another: poetry for the sake of credibility, the earlier work should be unfinished.
Influence and repercussion
His exile poetry has been seen as of fundamental importance for the study of Roman aristocracy under Augustus and Tiberius, furnishing "precious pieces of information about events and persons".
- a. ^ Ovid himself frequently wrote about his fame (before and after his exile): see
- b. ^ See, for example, F. Lenz, Ovid. Bericht über das Schrifttum der Jahre 1928-1937. (1938, but editorial details lost from copy read by me in Classics Library, U Austin, Texas); O. Janssen, O F M: "De Verbanning van Ovidius, Waarheid of Fiktie?" In Uit de Romeinse Keizertijd, Collectanea Franciscana Neerlandica 6-3 (1951), p. 77-105.
- Green, 2005, xxiv.
- OCD (2007), Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid). John Richards (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Gaertner, 2007, p.155.
- Green, 2005, xiv.
- "Bibliothek des allgemeinen und praktischen Wissens. Bd. 5" (1905), Abriß der Weltliteratur, Seite 51
- Mirmont, 1905, p.1-28.
- See Trist. II, 131-132.
- Kenney, 1982, p.454.
- Taplin, 2000, p.437.
- Cited by Smith, 1849, p.73.
- Smith, 1849, p.72.
- Tris., 2, 532–536.
- Ellis, 2008, p.87
- Denied by Wilkinson, 1955, p.363.
- Toohey, 1996, p.195.
- Luce, Falkner, 1989, p.210.
- Horster, Reitz, 2005, p.20.
- Montero, 2002, p.14.
- See Tr. 1.1.45-8, 3.14.33, 5.12.21-2, Pont. 1.5.3-8, 3.4.1 1, 4.2.15, 4.8.65-6.
- Ovid, Tristia 2.207
- Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto 2.9.72
- Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto 3.3.72
- Norwood, Frances, "The Riddle of Ovid's Relegatio", Classical Philogy (1963) p. 158
- Fränkel, 1945, p.111-12.
- Vázquez, 1992, p.10.
- Montero, 2002, p.10.
- Green, 2005, xxii.
- Vulikh, 1968, p.370-82.
- Simón, Rodríguez, 2004, and Verdière, 1992, p.163. listes a extense bibliopgraphy.
- Holleman, 1985, p.48.
- Hofmann, 1987, p.23.
- O. Janssen, 1951, p.77-105.
- Brown, 1985, 20-21.
- Brown, 1985, p.19-22.
- Ezquerra, 1997, p.23-24.
- Allen, 1950, 145-60.
- Smith, 1997, p.192.
- Williams, , 154-209.
- Claassen, 1987, p.31-47.
- Fantham, 1998, p.42.
- Martin, 1986, p.609-11.
- Porte, 1984, p.284-306.
- Mora, 2002, p.99-117.
- Tristia 1, 7, 14.
- Bömer, 1969-86, vol. 1, pp.488-9 (with further literature).
- See, for example, the detailed description of the course books by Rome in the elegies Tr. 1.1 and 3.1. Argument raised by Mora, 2002, p.107.
- Housman, 1972, 1040.
- Nagle, 1980, p.19-20.
- Syme, 1978, p.37.
- Gaertner, 2007, p.10.
- Ovid: Tristia (Tris.) and Epistulae ex Ponto
- H. De la Ville de Mirmont, La jeunesse d’Ovide (Paris 1905)
- A. L. Wheeler, “Topics from the life of Ovid”, American Journal of Philology 46 (1925) 1--28
- Oliver Taplin, Literature in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A New Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2000)
- Ronald Syme, History in Ovid (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1978)
- Jan Felix Gaertner, Writing exile: the discourse of displacement in Greco-Roman antiquity and beyond (BRILL, 2007). ISBN 90-04-15515-5
- Peter Green (ed.), Ovid, The poems of exile: Tristia and the Black Sea letters (University of California Press, 2005). ISBN 0-520-24260-2
- M. Trozzi, Ovidio e i suoi tempi (Catania 1930)
- H. Fränkel, Ovid: a poet between two worlds (Berkeley 1945 = Berkeley-Los Angeles 1969)
- M. von Albrecht-E. Zinn (eds.), Ovid (Darmstadt 1968)
- E. Martini, Einleitung zu Ovid (Darmstadt 1970)
- J. W. Binns (ed.), Ovid (London-Boston 1973)
- J. Barsby, Ovid (Oxford 1978)
- S. Mack, Ovid (New Haven—London 1988)