Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Holly Crocker

Abstract

Ovid’s portrayal and attitude towards women is one that is particularly puzzling and contradictory throughout his Metamorphoses and Heroides. Recent scholarship on Ovidian literature is only divided on whether or not Ovid’s intentions within these two works were to sympathize with the Roman woman’s experience or to reinforce the lack of female representation in Roman society; however, I argue that Ovid fails to achieve empathy for the Roman woman. In Heroides, these women are pining and tragic, often meeting some terrible fate shortly after being abandoned by their suitors and putting forth a complaint. Conversely, women in Metamorphoses also issue complaints, and as a result, are raped, mutilated, and transformed. In both texts, female desires and voices are ultimately rejected or invalidated in some manner that ridicules or objectifies the woman. The combination of euphemistic language and avoidance of words like “rape,” a lack of female agency and choice, dehumanization and violence on women, as well as stereotypical presentations of female characters all point to Ovid’s ventriloquization of female voice, complaints and desires. All of these are utilized to silence women and female complaint under Roman patriarchy, reaching a male audience, and less so a female one

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