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Voce voco. Ariadne in Ovids Heroides und die ‘weibliche’ Stimme*)

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Abstract The article analyses how Ovid in the 10th letter of his Heroides experiments with the concept of a female voice within Roman literature. Ovid constructs Ariadne as a literary speaker against the background of (1) the Augustan elegiac tradition with its mostly male speakers, (2) the earlier phases of the Ariadne-myth in which Ariadne’s fate is determined by men (Theseus and Bacchus), and (3) the reception of this myth in Catullus’ famous ecphrasis in carmen 64. In the beginning of Heroides 10, Ovid shows how Ariadne develops consciousness of her own ability to speak. She develops from a heterodiegetic (epic) narrator to a homodiegetic (elegiac) speaker. In a second step, however, Ovid demonstrates that Ariadne is not only generally inexperienced in the field of literature, but that her attempt to re-shape her own story from a female perspective must necessarily fail. Her literary character cannot be separated from the previous (male) myth. At the end of the letter, she accepts her own literary immaturity when she asks Theseus to be the future narrator of her own fate. By showing that Ovid in his Ariadne-letter actually stages the failure of his protagonist’s attempt to free herself from a male literary tradition, I suggest that the Heroides should not be read as female literature, but as texts which reaffirm male dominance within Roman literary society.

Affiliations: 1: Universiteit Leiden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, GLTC Postbus 9515, 2300 RA Leiden The Netherlands c.pieper@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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2012-01-01
2016-12-09

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