Eros Repentant?

Panegyric, Apology and Artistic Self-Consciousness in Ovid’s Exile Poetry


  • Marko Marinčič University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia



Ovid, Tristia, Amores, Ars amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto, literary genre, elegy, Augustus


The main source of uneasiness for modern readers of Ovid’s exile poetry has always been its adulation of Augustus and the imperial family. Subversive elements certainly are there, but probably not to the point of subverting the apologetic programme. This article takes up the implicit suggestion made by two of the earliest humanist commentators of Ovid’s Ibis, Domizio Calderini and the Capodistrian Cristoforo Zarotto, who perceived that Ovid might have deliberately chosen the genre of invective in order to ‘prove’ the innocence of the Ars amatoria. My main thesis is that Ovid followed a similar strategy already in Tristia 2: his argumentation is in some places deliberately inconsistent and relies on over-meticulous classification of literary genres. The poet does paraphrase Catullus in claiming that poetry is not to be taken as an indication of the author’s moral profile, but he limits that claim to epic and drama and goes on to confess that that his–or any–first person erotic poetry is based in real life, arguing that he was the only poet in history to be punished for writing about erotic subjects. This new formula of captatio benevolentiae, one that abandons the idea of poetry as fiction in favour of a rhetoric of poetry as authentic expression of suffering, accords with the rest of Ovid’s exile poetry, with the Ibis as an extreme example of extroverted verbal abuse.


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23. 12. 2022



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How to Cite

Marinčič, Marko. 2022. “Eros Repentant? Panegyric, Apology and Artistic Self-Consciousness in Ovid’s Exile Poetry”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 24 (1): 35-63.

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