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The Portents and Parallels Lecture Series

Events Calendar

The Portents and Parallels Lecture Series

In brief lectures, area academics discuss some aspect of their field of knowledge that sheds light on our current political climate.

The lectures are free, with a suggested donation of $3-4 to cover overhead for use of the space (for those who can’t attend, you can help by mailing a donation to Tsunami Book Store 2585 Willamette Street, Eugene, OR 97405) 

Lecture by Lowell, Bowditch, Professor of Classics, University of Oregon
Lecture title: "Ovidian Images of Censorship in the Metamorphoses" 

About (Details): This talk will focus on the Latin poet Ovid and episodes in his Metamorphoses to draw some comparisons between our current political situation and ancient Rome under the first emperor, Augustus. Ovid lived and wrote during the period of the Augustan Principate, a time that witnessed the momentous transformation of Rome’s republican institutions into an imperial monarchy. He was the victim of both censorship and exile by Augustus, ostensibly for the publication of The Art of Love, a work that flew in the face of social legislation of the time. But the reasons for Ovid's exile have always been murky. His literary works, including the Metamorphoses, provide many images and stories that serve as metaphors of Rome’s increasingly autocratic government, subject to a single ruler and a sycophantic Senate. The frequent motif in the Metamorphoses of a woman or nymph, losing her voice in the process of her transformation, may be read as an image of censorship and more broadly as a comment on the erosion of political agency for the elite male citizen, often represented as “feminized” in literature of the period. Although wholesale comparisons to our current American climate do not match in every detail, we can certainly read these episodes in Ovid as speaking across history to our current situation of politically motivated censorship, broadly defined, where those in power either attempt to control the representation of events or suppress reporting all together.
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Lowell Bowditch, Professor of Classics
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403