The Exile’s Lament. Solitude and Togetherness in Ovid’s Later Works

Olga Szynkaruk



This article is a solitude-focused interpretation of the later works of Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE–AD 17/18): Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto. A celebrated poet in his heyday, in AD 8 Ovid was exiled from Rome by Augustus, never to return to his homeland again. The circumstances and causes of such a harsh sentence have never been explicitly stated: neither by Ovid himself, nor by any of his contemporary authors. Some historians speculate that the causes are related to another of the poet’s works – the infamous Ars Amatoria that had once shocked the citizens of Rome. Others would argue that moral outrage was but a convenient disguise of Augustus’ actual motives, quite possibly related to scandalous affairs of a political or personal nature. Although an exploration of the aforementioned themes is made, as well as some considerations regarding the legal implications of exile in ancient Rome, the main subject of the article is the reading of Ovid’s later works as introspections that provide insight into his exile, understood as a period of loneliness. While removed from his home and from those close to his heart, the poet remained a Roman citizen, keenly identifying as part of that community. Though his proximity to other peoples never became togetherness, his loneliness, as evidenced by a copious body of introspective works, seems to have eventually evolved into solitude.


Ovid; exile; solitude; loneliness; reading

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