|dc.description.abstract||This study undertakes a close reading of Ovid’s poem Tristia 2, which was composed in AD 9 when the poet was in exile. I argue that although the poem, explicitly addressed to Augustus, takes the form of an earnest plea for mercy, it incorporates various criticisms of the autocrat, while also presenting a vigorous defence of the Ars Amatoria, the poem that contributed significantly to his banishment.
The tension between plea and criticism points to a subversive line of interpretation that has been mooted by several studies, including Ingleheart’s recent commentary. It forces readers to take a position on Tristia 2’s political stance.
By examining Ovid’s artistic techniques, I argue that he undercuts his plea by denigrating Augustus and the position he took in the case. Through this and in a pitch for acquittal in the eyes of his literary public, he defends both the Ars Amatoria and himself and exposes the injustice of his conviction and punishment.
I contend that while Ovid hoped that this approach might result in an improvement in his circumstances of exile (or end it), his most important goal was to rescue and redeem his reputation so that his name could live on through people reading his works.||