Exul Ludens

The notion that Ovid was never relegated to Tomis at all, but — in a very real sense an exul ludens [laughing exile] — spent his latter years in Rome toying with ever more elaborate exilic topoi (presumably as an excuse for not finishing the Fasti and not revising the Metamorphoses …), remains fundamentally bizarre. Just how bizarre can be appreciated when we try to envisage the Realien [realities] of such a project and the reaction to it of friends and critics. Ovid’s real exile may not have provoked (surviving) contemporary comment, but so ludicrous a piece of monotonous and obsessional playacting … most certainly would have done so.

[Ovid. The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters, with a new foreword. Translated with an introduction, notes and glossary by Peter Green. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. x.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can imagine the conversation.
[at the front door] "Is Ovid in?"
"No, sorry. He's out the back in his study pretending to be in exile on the Black Sea, so he won't be able to come out to play today."
"How about tomorrow?"
"No, I'm afraid he's decided to die as a lonely stranger, so he won't really be available at all from now on. If you leave me your address I'm sure he'll write you a letter. It'll take about six months to do the round trip, though ..."