Nicole Daniel

PRESENTER: Nicole Daniel, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Classics

TITLE: Blame it on the Reader: Ovid’s Tristia 2 and the Corruption of Reading

ABSTRACT:In 8 CE Ovid was banished from Rome as punishment for a 'poem and a mistake.' In Tristia 2 (9 CE), a poetic letter addressed to Augustus, Ovid defends the poem for which he was punished, the Ars Amatoria. Ovid argues that his poem is not to blame but rather the reader who has imposed a corrupt interpretation on the Ars. Ovid pays particular attention to the female reader as the Ars was charged with encouraging respectable married women to commit adultery. According to Ovid, a women who is inclined to commit adultery can read corrupt incentives to misbehave into anything. Ovid points to several examples from Greek and Latin literature to show that any text can be read corruptly. This paper will demonstrate, using Tristia 2, that Ovid seeks to deflect the blame away from himself and his poetry and in so doing demonstrates the indispensible role of the reader in the creation of a text’s meaning.