Ovid's wife in the "Tristia" and "Epistulae ex Ponto"
Petersen, Amy Nohr
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Augustus exiled Ovid to Tomis in AD 8 in part, the poet says, because of his carmen, the Ars Amatoria. Ovid presents the misfortunes of exile in two collections of elegiac epistles, the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto. As the recipient of nine epistles, Ovid’s wife is his most frequent addressee. Other poems throughout the two works also mention her. Ovid models the persona of his wife in the exile poetry on characters he developed in the Amores, Heroides, and Ars Amatoria. She appears initially as an abandoned heroine, then as a beloved from whom Ovid seeks fulfillment of his needs, and eventually becomes a pupil in imperial courtship. The resulting “conjugal love elegy” does not replace his earlier erotic elegy but recasts it as a means for Ovid to lament his misfortunes, present a new image for his poet-narrator, and immortalize his genius.