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Crimes and punishments: The legitimacy of Ovid’s banishment

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Chapter Summary

In his poems from exile Ovid shows an intense interest in the legitimacy of his own actions vis--vis those of the Roman princeps. He often defines the nature of his crime over against the severe and public punishment it received. Due legal process becomes subsumed under the larger aims of the poetry. This chapter shows that at least one of those aims is to reveal that the poet suffered an injustice at the hands of the Augustus. It evaluates how the terms of Roman law that Ovid uses to define the nature of his deed can be brought to bear on an appraisal of his punishment. The chapter focuses on three (legal) issues: relegatio, carmen, and error, and addresses a question: how is the reader to reconcile the severity of the punishmentbanishment to Tomis (relegatio)with the mildness of the offensea mistake (error) and an act of writing (carmen).

Keywords: carmen; error; King Augustus; Ovid's banishment; Ovids crimes; public punishment; relegatio; Roman law; Roman princeps



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