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Conclusion - The exile’s last word: Power and poetic redress on the margins of empire

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Chapter Summary

The power of Augustus, Tiberius, and emperors to follow, resides in the mutual understanding between Rome's &t;first citizen&t; (princeps) and the rest of the empire that the emperor retains the right to condemn to death. In Ovids particular case, the art of poetry provides the exile with the power to speak after death and always gives him the last word. As carefully constructed responses from a particular place and time, these poems also address specific historical changes brought about by the princepsfor example, to Roman legal procedure. Ovid also enshrines in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto a picture of the princeps as an irrational autocrat whose anger knew no bounds. For Heaney, the practice of poetry under the kind of conditions Ovid writes about in exile is fundamentally tied to &t;the idea of counterweighting, of balancing out the forces, of redress-tilting the scales of reality towards some transcendent equilibrium.&t;.

Keywords: Epistulae ex Ponto; Ovid; poetic redress; princeps; Roman legal procedure; Tristia



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