Ovid: The Love Poems
Make Panic Look Fetching: The Eroticization of Rape by Ovid
Jordan Reid Berkow
Rome of Augustus
April 17, 2003
"Make Panic Look Fetching": The Eroticization of Rape by Ovid
In both the Ars Armatoria and Metamorphoses, Ovid presents highly detailed, compelling scenes of rape, crafting these moments with an almost exquisite attention to detail that reveals their value to him as a writer. Two of the most notable rape scenes in Ovid's repertoire are that of the rape of the Sabine women, in the Ars Armatoria, and the story of the Arcadian Girl (also known as the Callisto myth) in Metamorphoses. While one may imagine that the ancient Roman conception of rape may have been fairly simplistic and accommodating to the male perspective, Ovid's portrayals are, to the contrary, quite complex and cast the women not as mere faceless victims, but rather as individuals with highly distinctive personalities and characteristics. Additionally, Ovid pays a great deal of attention to the negative effects that the rapes have on the victims, describing their sorrow, their tears, and their cries, as in the Ars Armatoria, for their mother (124). This remarkably sympathetic portrayal of women, however, while perhaps intended to elicit sympathy from the reader, is overwhelmed by...
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