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Re-Reading Ovid's Rapes

Mary-Kay Gamel

University of Southern California

This presentation tackles head-on Richlin’s reading of rape scenes in Ovid’s Metamorphoses – her argument that the poet’s coupling of violence and sexuality could be explained by the savage aggression to which Romans were exposed in the arena and by the opportunities for sexual abuse available to Roman men in a slave-culture. The panelist argues that on the contrary Ovid’s descriptions need not be read as normalizing rape but are, rather, part of the poem’s complex but deeply radical dissection and critique of Augustan Rome’s association of violence with sexuality. As this association was already present in the Amores and Ars Amatoria, the Metamorphoses was the carmen leading to Ovid’s exile, for Augustus was a careful and vindictive reader.

Session/Panel Title

Feminist Scholarship in the Classics: Amy Richlin's Arguments with Silence: Writing the History of Roman Women (2014), (Workshop)

Session/Paper Number

29.5

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