Reconstructing Home in Exile: Ovid's Tristia
Murphy, Holly Lynn
University of Kansas
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This thesis explores the physical landscapes and social interactions that form Ovid's home in Rome, as well as his vision of a transcendent home made possible through poetry. My case-studies will be poems from Ovid's Tristia in which he either directly reconstructs home or provides a photographic negative image of home by highlighting the opposite: the barbaric. I will spend the first chapter examining Ovid's construction of home's physical landscape. In Tristia 3.10 and 3.12, Ovid recreates Rome as a sort of negative image of Tomis. Rome is what Tomis is not. In Chapter Two, I will look at Ovid's reconstruction of social interaction; alienated in Tomis, he maintains his connections in Rome through his absent presence, as exemplified in Tristia 3.5. But home for Ovid is more than Rome. In Chapter Three, I will examine Ovid's position as a sacred vates who can, through his poetry, have a transcendent home on Mount Helicon. Tiberius's future triumph in Germany (Tristia 4.2) gives Ovid the opportunity to join himself to Caesar's triumph; his poem becomes the symbolic declaration of his own victory over the world. His letter to his daughter Perilla (Tristia 3.4), who is also a poet, reveals that poetry gives Ovid a companionship with her even while he is absent; poetry allows him friendships that spans any distance. I will also examine Tristia 4.10, Ovid's autobiography, as a further example of Ovid's transcendent home on Mount Helicon. He spent his boyhood on Mount Helicon, and in his early years he becomes known and read in the city; in exile he finally becomes known and read in the whole world.
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