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Issues of Unity in Ovid’s Tristia

Helena Dettmer

In his 1995 Teubner edition, J. B. Hall separates Tristia 1.5, 1.9, 3.4, 4.4, 5.2, and 5.7 into two poems. One reviewer of Hall’s edition is highly critical of the editor for not justifying the separation of these poems despite the fact the divisions have manuscript support. Because of the sorry state of the textual transmission of Ovid's Tristia, it is sometimes difficult to determine the beginning and end of an individual poem if that poem resumes thematically and verbally where the previous poem concludes. The aim of this study is to show that definitive evidence can be offered to justify division of these six elegies into two poems. Structure combined with theme serves as an analytical tool that defines the beginning and end of the twelve literary pieces under consideration and highlights their artistry. Resolution of the issue of unity enhances our interpretation of the independent poems and our understanding of the complex interplay among poems within each poetry-book. The careful and often brilliant craftsmanship of the poems and of the books in which they appear reaffirms that Ovid’s repeated deprecation of the quality of his literary work composed during his period of exile in the Black Sea region is simply a pose to attract sympathy and support from his Roman audience.
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Appendix B: Text and Translation


This appendix contains the text and literal translations of the twelve poems that are the subject of this monograph as well as Tristia 4.5, 5.10, and 5.11. For a literary translation of all the poems in the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, I recommend P. Green’s Ovid: The Poems of Exile. 1994. Reprint, with new forward. Ovid: The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.←159 | 160→

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Dearest one, to be named first among my companions and to whom especially my misfortune seemed to be your own, who, I recall, first dared to sustain me with your consolation, when the thunderbolt struck, who gave me gentle counsel to live, since a desire to die occupied my wretched heart: you know well whom I mean, with clues substituted for your name, and you are not unaware of your service, friend. These things will always be fixed deep in my heart, and I will constantly be in your debt for my life: this spirit will disappear into the empty air and will desert my bones on the warm pyre before your kindnesses are forgotten and that loyalty of yours slips away from my mind because of the passage of time. May the gods be gracious to you and grant you good fortune, requiring the assistance of no one and dissimilar to my own. Yet if this ship were not borne by an unfavorable wind, that...

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