At the end of a year when we have been reminded that creative works of merit often issue from the dungheap, The Guardian reports that Rome’s city council has decided to revoke the 8 AD exile of Publius Ovidius Naso. Ovid whiled away his time in the backwater of the Black Sea composing the Tristia and The Black Sea Letters, respectively bewailing in couplets his condition and pleading with the recipients of his letters to intervene with the emperor.
We don’t know what “carmen et error” (poem and mistake) caused Augustus to banish Ovid. But should the city council have focused on the works rather than the man? Does great art justify “rehabilitation”? Who knows.
At least the news prompts a new look at Jacqueline Rush Lee‘s transformation of the Tristia and Black Sea Letters.