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Last edited 30 September 2022

Publius Ovidius Naso, more commonly known as Ovid, was born in 43 BC in Sulmona in central Italy. He died sixty-one years later (18 CE) in Tomis, modern-day Constanța, on the shores of the Black Sea. Tomis was, quite literally, at the furthest reach of the Roman Empire. Ovid died there because he had disgraced himself, though quite what he had done to earn his relegatio remains a matter of contention. The focus of this article is on Ovid the jurist. We will first establish a necessary context, by revisiting Ovid the poet, to survey his writing, and muse upon his disgrace. We will then take a closer look at what he had to write, and insinuate, about law. Finally, we will contemplate his ‘appeal’.

1. The Poet

It is a critical commonplace to note the extent to which Ovid deployed legal language and imagery in his writing (Kenney 1969). He might have been a lawyer, as he tells us in Tristia (4.10.15–16, 33–4). He would certainly have undergone the same training as those who might, however loosely, have been termed lawyers in classical Rome; in the nitty-gritty of property and probate, as well as the higher arts of rhetoric. In the end, though, he became a writer.

1.1. The Writings

Ovid’s writings can be demarcated into the love-elegies, the Metamorphoses, and the exile writings. The order of composition is still contended, though opinion tends to suppose that they were written, more or less, in this order. The loosest category is the former, comprising the Amores, a teasing muse on the poet’s love for a married woman, and the Ars amatoria, which advertises itself as an adulterer’s handbook, to which can be added a couple of supplements, the Ars remedia and Cosmetics for Ladies, a brief essay on fashion fads. Greater contention moves around the extent to which two other texts can be counted as love-elegies. The first is the Heroides, often thought to be amongst Ovid’s earliest writing. A series of love-letters written by characters drawn from Greek mythology to their distant and variously faithless lovers. The second is the Fasti, a celebration of Roman festivals written in calendrical form, and seeming to finish half way through the year, in June; something which suggests that its composition might have been interrupted by Ovid’s exile.

Ovid’s most substantial work is Metamorphoses, a fifteen-book epic, starting with the beginning of the world, and ending with the establishment of Augustan Rome. A poetic equivalent of Livy’s History of Rome, commonly aligned by critics with Virgil’s Aeneid. As the title suggests, the driving theme of Metamorphoses is change. And for the literary jurist, as we will see, one particular metamorphosis is prescient: the evolution from a lawless to a lawful state. The third category of Ovidian text comprise the exile writings, Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto. Variously pleading and pitying, despairing and defiant reflections on the condition of the author, and the purpose of the poetic endeavour, the exile writings can also be read as an appeal, not just to the Emperor back in Rome, but to succeeding generations.

1.2. The Fall

Whilst the exile writings allude constantly to Ovid’s fall, they give no precise clue as to what he might have done. The closest Ovid comes is to confessing ‘a poem and an error’ (Trist. 2.207). Racier speculation wonders if Ovid might have been discovered having an affair with the Emperor’s daughter (Julia, 43 BC–14 CE), or grand-daughter (Julia minor, 19 BC–28 CE). Both were ‘party-goers’, according to the historians Cassius Dio and Macrobius. Ovid was tutor to the younger Julia. He may even have been caught up in a failed palace-coup headed by Lucius Aemilius Paullus, husband of the younger Julia, and discovered in 8 CE. More likely is the possibility that Ovid knew, or saw, something compromising. Whatever it was, it brought to an abrupt close what had been a stellar career as one of Rome’s foremost men of letters, a member of Maecenas’s famed literary circle, esteemed at Court, until 8 CE at least. Ultimately, we are left to speculate what the ‘error’ might have been and which ‘poem’ might have upset Augustus.

Our speculations might be aided if we pause to consider Augustus (63 BC–14 CE), and what mattered to him. The last man standing amidst the chaotic aftermath of the assassination of his adoptive father Julius Caesar in 44 BC, the newly styled Augustus had been awarded the title princeps in 27 BC. Four years later he had assumed the further powers of tribune and censor, and it was in this latter capacity that he had set out to fashion himself as something of a moral crusader. Literally, in the sense that he started to wear conspicuously plain clothing, along with eating conspicuously plain food, in a conspicuously plain palace. And then enacting some conspicuous new laws.

Starting in 18 BC with the lex Iulia de maritandis ordinibus (Giltaij 2019) and the lex Iulia de adulteriis coercendis (McGinn 2003). The former was purposed to reinforce the institution of marriage, and encourage legitimate procreation, the latter to deter adultery. Laws intended, as Augustus proudly affirmed in his Res gestae, to “restore many of the good practices of our ancestors that were dying out in our time” (Res ges. 8.5). To a considerable extent the new leges did indeed reinvest provisions in the customary law of marriage, the purpose of which was, in turn, to preserve the integrity of the family and the authority of the paterfamilias. More closely still, Roman customary law was geared to support the culture of pudor or honour, and most especially the pudicitia of Roman women, the “most lovely kind of beauty, the greatest glory”, according to Seneca (Dial. 12.16.4), a “divine power”, according to Valerius Maximus (Val. Max. 6.1). Not all women, of course. Only those with honour to lose; so not slaves, prostitutes or actresses.

The moral imperative was most apparent in regard to the lex de adulteriis. Whilst de maritandis ordinibus dealt mainly in financial incentives, for marriage and procreation, the adultery statute reinvested the customary ius occidendi, which permitted the paterfamilias to exact brutal vengeance on any seducer discovered in flagrante, from beating to castration to death (McGinn 2003, 202–207; Brescia 2019). Albeit it, he would have to kill his daughter at the same time, and the pair must have been discovered on his property. Quite how common was the practice, either before or after 18 BC, remains a matter of conjecture. The legislative restatement is nevertheless striking. The greater significance of the lex de adulteriis, however, was the establishment of a dedicated quaestio perpetua, confirming the elevation of adultery from a private iniuria to a public crime. In simple terms, what went on in the privacy of the Roman bedroom became a matter of public concern, and public law. It has been speculated that the new leges struggled to win support, not least in the Senate (cf. Tacitus, Annals, 3.28). The passage of a third edict, the lex Papia Poppaea, enacted a couple of decades on, adds to the surmise; a law intended to both refine and reaffirm. An intriguing moment then for a young poet to decide to carve out a career writing racy verse, and handbooks for prospective adulterers.

2. The Trials

Legal inference, as we noted earlier, is inscribed throughout the Ovidian canon. Its most concentrated articulation, however, is discovered in his love-elegies and Metamorphoses. Casebooks, we might call them, in the laws, as well as the poetics, of love.

2.1. The Love-Elegies

As we have already intimated, the raciest verse is discovered in the Amores and the Ars Amatoria. The latter a handbook for adulterers, the former an extended report of one particular case. That of Corinna, the poet’s muse and, we are led to infer, his lover, charting her sorry slide down a very slippery slope; from adultery to prostitution to abortion. The legal tone is set from the very start, as Ovid bandies the vying ‘rights’ of the husband and the lover to Corinna’s embraces (Am. 1.4.60–3). Breaking into Corinna’s chamber is likened to breaking into prison (Am. 1.6.16–17, 31–2). It is an intrusion, an invasion of privacy. As is the passage in which Ovid invites his reader to gaze at what is to be found within, Corinna’s body: “What arms and shoulders did I touch and see,/ How apt her bosom to be pressed by me!/ Belly so smooth and breast so high,/ And waist so long, and what a fine young thigh” (Am. 1.5.10, 18–22). Sensual and alluring, “all perfect in my sight”, and more than a little pornographic (Am. 1.5.23). “And next – all know”, the narrator triumphantly records, “we rested, with a kiss/ Jove send me more such afternoons as this” (Am. 1.5.25–6). A beginning, though, not an end, as any readers of Valerius would have known. Adultery is only ever the start.

Next, as the Augustan lex prescribed, comes prostitution. The affair sours. Corinna starts asking for gifts in return for her favours, and the poet takes affront:

While you played straight, I loved you, soul and body
But now your beauty’s marred by your offence …
With beauty prostituted for a fee …
So cease, you beauties, pricing a night’s favours;
No good can ever come of sordid gain …
(Am. 1.10.13–14, 42, 47–48).

And then, finally, the predictable consequence of the affair. Corinna discovers she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion. The extent to which abortion was unlawful in Augustan Rome remains a matter of debate. Cicero related the story of a Miletian woman who was executed for performing abortion (Clu. 11.32), whilst the jurist Tryphonius would later suggest that women who had abortions, following affairs, could expect to suffer exile (Dig. 48.19.39; cf. Harris 2007, 87). Ovid’s attitude to abortion ‘rights’ leaves less to the imagining. Supposing that Corinna’s real concern is vanity, and absolving himself of the slightest responsibility, he launched into a bitter complaint: “And you’d have died – unborn to be lovely –/ If your mother’d tried the same as you” (Am. 2.14.19–20).

The extent to which the love-elegies as a whole might be read as an ironic rebuke to Augustus’s marriage laws is a matter for conjecture. It has been suggested that Ovid was seeking to make the case for an alternative ‘amatory’ jurisprudence, administered by a praeceptor amoris (Ziogas 2021). In so doing, necessarily limiting the reach of the civil law, public and indeed private. A jurisdictional argument, in essence: “The body you may guard – the mind is guilty... Bolt as you will, a lover lurks within” (Am. 3.4.5, 8). Remember, “there’s no limit to poetic license,/ And it’s not tied to truths of history” (Am. 3.12.26–7). The poet speaks to the heart, the lawyer to the law. The same sentiment can be found in the Ars amatoria; above all, remember that “our characters are moulded by our art” (Ars. 3.541). The Ars can then be read as a more concentrated defence of the art of poetry, in echo of Horace, and anticipation of countless later ‘defences’, from Sidney to Shelley – albeit one with lots of practical advice, on “safe intrigues and lawful thefts”, where to pick up a lover, how to recognise a seducible wife and cuckold her husband. Make friends with the maid, write love-letters, deploy a lawyer’s ‘eloquence’, better still adopt the guise of a poet; “master both the tongues” (Ars. 1.99, 2.112). As for the ‘bored housewife’, singing, dancing, and the right hairstyle. For all concerned, the instruction is simple: read the Ars ‘with care’, learn how to dodge the lex de adulteriis, and have some fun (Ars. 3.140).

2.2. Metamorphoses

As might be anticipated, the theme of Metamorphoses, which Ovid started writing around 1 CE, is change. And, as we have already noted, one particular change is of especial interest to the literary jurist: the transformation of a lawless into a lawful world, a process which reaches its epitome in the shape of the ‘divine’ Augustus. In order to sustain this thesis, across fifteen books, Ovid revisits a variety of variously familiar ‘cases’ in Greek and Roman mythology, the vast majority of which are sexual in nature, and commonly violent. We will revisit just three of these cases: Tiresias, Philomela and Myrrha.

2.2.1. Tiresias’s Case

Tiresias’s ‘case’ is described in book 3. The facts of the case are briefly told, across fifteen lines. Tiresias is a sage called upon to resolve a rather silly squabble that has developed, between Jupiter and his wife Juno, as to whether men or women enjoy sex more. Tiresias’s peculiar sagacity is discovered in the fact that he “knew both sides of love” (Met. 3.323–6). His mistake is to over-reach himself, as he moves from doctus to arbiter to iudex; in effect from jurist, to counsel, to judge (Coleman 1990, 573–575; Balsey 2010, 15–23; Ziogas 2021, 250–252). When Tiresias gives judgement for Jupiter, an angry Juno retaliates by removing his sight. By way of compensation, Jupiter grants him clairvoyant powers. All rather arbitrary, a sort-of maiestas council, ending with the judge mutilated, and Jupiter exercising a random species of clementia. Not quite the first sign that justice in a pre-legal world can be capricious. Lycaon’s ‘case’, in book 1, intimates that much. But the first in which the consequence is patently unjust. Rome needs to do better.

And will, eventually, with the apotheosis of Julius Caesar in the final book, and the deification of Augustus:

When peace has been bestowed upon the world,
Turning his thoughts to civil rights, he’ll show
Justice and equity in lawgiving,
And by his own example guide men’s ways.
(Met. 15.832–834)

The Tiresian ‘settlement’ is the first step in a process of juridification, providing the faintest of templates upon which a coherent, conspicuously imperial, model of civil governance can be built; a divinely-assured sovereign delegating authority to a civil magistrate, whilst retaining a prerogative of mercy.

2.2.2. Philomela’s Case

Our second ‘case’, that of Philomela, follows in book 6. It is one of Ovid’s many rape-cases. Philomela is an Athenian princess raped by her brother-in-law, King Tereus of Thrace, whilst on her way to visit her sister Procne. When she threatens to report what has happened, Tereus cuts out her tongue, and decides to keep her in a cabin in the forest, to which he will return periodically to commit further rapes. In defiance, Philomela weaves an account of her violation on a tapestry and has it smuggled to Procne (Met. 6.577–580). The reader is left to infer whether the account is script or image; the more common translation supposes that she worked ‘words’. An incensed Procne rescues her sister, and then devises a plan to exact revenge on her husband by slaughtering their son Itys and serving him to his father for dinner. Presented with the evidence, when Philomela produces Itys’s head, Tereus vows revenge and chases after the sisters. Almost caught, they pray for the intervention of the gods, and are turned into birds. Ovid does not say which birds, but most Roman poets assumed that Philomela became a nightingale, and Procne a swallow; Greek poets adopted the converse. Tereus, meanwhile, becomes a hoopoe, a bird with a mixed reputation across ancient cultures: “Every inch a fighter still”, according to Ovid (Met. 6.674), sacred in ancient Egypt and Minoan Crete, amongst the ‘detestable’ in Leviticus 11:13–19.

In strictly legal terms, the violation of Philomela is an egregious example of raptus and stuprum per vim; the former being abduction, the latter rape with violence. Both were rooted in customary law, and addressed as a private iniuria, to be prosecuted by an offended paterfamilias, under the lex Aquilia (Dig. 9.2) and the lex Cornelia de iniuris. Prospective punishment could range from casual beatings, to castration, and even death. The lex Aquilia, passed around 286 BC, provided compensatory remedies for private iniuria, the lex Cornelia, enacted two centuries later, added the criminal remedies. The law had begun to change by Ovid’s time. The Iulia de vi, promulgated around 45 BC (Nguyen 2006, 88–89), confirmed that rape was an offence which attracted a capital charge which could be remitted to relegatio or diminution of status in particular circumstances; Paulus would later suppose that relegatio was reserved for honestiores, privileged citizens (Sent. 5.22.5). The criminal sanctions for rape were reinforced in the Augustan leges of 18 BC, which further confirmed the ‘public’ status of stuprum per vim, whilst also removing the stigma of stuprum from the victim, thereby restoring the possibility of their (re)marriage.

This is not, though, the law that applies in Thrace, a lawless land ruled by a barbaric despot. And a land in which women wreak their own vengeance. An interested Roman could peruse any number of moralizing tracts, such as Valerius’s Facta et Dicta, and find no comparable instance of Roman women doing what Procne and Philomela did. It would be naïve to invest too much stock in the seemingly progressive nature of Augustan statutory reform. But still, Ovid seems to be saying: Look what happens in a truly lawless society, where only violence rules, along with some worryingly assertive women. As she tosses Itys’s head at her violator, Philomela had “never wanted more tongue to express/ Her joy” (Met. 6.659–62).

2.2.3. Myrrha’s Case

Our third ‘case’ touches on another sexual offence, incest. Roman law distinguished two species of incestum. The first was sex with a Vestal Virgin. The second was sex between people so closely related that they were denied ius conubii, the right to marry and procreate. In the words of Paulus, anyone who ‘marries a person from the types of relations whom we are forbidden by custom to marry’, and an offence against ‘natural law and modesty’ (Dig. 23.2.39; There is some debate as to when precisely the customary law of incestum became subject to criminal charges (Harries 2007, 93–4). There is no mention of incestum in the Augustan leges, suggesting that the existing law of stuprum was deemed sufficient. The root of the offence lay, of course, in the threat which it presented to the patria potestas, and the particular responsibility, incumbent on all patres familias, to preserve the honour of the family.

There may not be quite so many instances of incest as there are rape in Metamorphoses, but there are plenty. Incest can be added to the list of Tereus’s crimes, whilst various divine couplings are evidently incestuous. There are though three particular cases upon which Ovid dwells. One, that of Canace, is treated at rather greater length in the Heroides. Those of Byblis and Myrrha are presented sequentially in books 9 and 10 of Metamorphoses. Byblis loves her brother, and makes the critical mistake of confessing such in a letter to him. She ends up driven to ‘frenzy’, running “howling through the countryside” (Met. 9.644). Myrrha’s ‘sin’ is worse still. A ‘terrible’ tale, told by Orpheus (Met. 10.299–300), not least for reason of cultural geography. Myrrha is a Cypriot princess, not a Thracian, and should have known better. Even if she was genetically predisposed; the great-grand-daughter of Pygmalion, the sculptor who became so obsessed with one of his creations that he married it

The twist in Myrrha’s Case, what makes it truly ‘terrible’, is that the object of her lust is her father, King Cinyras. Myrrha agonises over her passion, appreciating that it might be a scelus, but if so an unjust one. A “crime/ If it is a crime … Human nicety/ Makes spiteful laws” (Met. 10.322–323, 329–330). Besides, as she rightly observes, the gods do it all the time. So Myrrha conspires with her nurse and sleeps with her father. And then, having revealed herself, flees. Confessing her guilt to the gods, she is transformed into a tree, her pregnant belly encased in wood. In due course she gives birth to Adonis, whose story immediately follows, and over which she continues to exercise a vengeful restraint. In the meantime, she is left to her fate, another mutilated young woman who had dared to challenge the laws of the patria potestas. No-one stops long to wonder the morality of Cinyras, only too easily persuaded to bed a girl who was, quite literally, his daughter’s age.

Myrrha’s ‘case’ invites slightly different readings. A first reinforces the argument which underpins the ‘Tiresian settlement’. The whimsy of variously disinterested gods is not enough. Civil society needs a civil law. An alternative revisits the thesis we noted in our reading of the love-elegies. There is another jurisdiction, that of the praeceptor amoris, which might be better equipped to deal with cases such as Myrrha’s. It is not a matter of condoning the offence, so much as hearing it more sympathetically. Something enhanced by the anguish that overcomes Myrrha, and her confession: “I’ve well deserved/ I’ll not refuse – the pain of punishment” (Met. 10.484–486; see Resinski 2014, 273–274; Ziogas 2021, 346, 364–368).

3. Ovid’s Appeal

We noted the genesis of the exile writings earlier, composed during Ovid’s perilous journey to the land of the much-maligned Thracians, and in the years which followed. Two sets of testamentary verse, Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, which can be read as appeals in mitigation. Intended for two audiences, the first was the ‘divine’ Augustus, back in Rome. Ovid presented four grounds. We have already glanced at the first, which took the form of a tempered confession. A ‘fatal error’, he admitted, but “You must know my fault was no crime” (Trist. 1.2.97, 109). The second was to wonder why he should be singled out for punishment, hardly the first Roman poet to have gambled his posterity on writing some racy verse. And what of all the painters and sculptors, and trainee lawyers, musing over various sexual transgressions in their controversiae. Why have they not all been shipped off to the Black Sea?

The third defence follows naturally: Ovid is an artist, and should be esteemed accordingly, on the beauty of his composition. The Ars is a ‘frivolous’ work, hardly designed to be ‘in conflict’ with imperial ‘statutes’, and hardly likely to corrupt those of a pure heart, for whilst “perverted minds can be corrupted by anything/ that in its proper context does no harm” (Trist. 2.238, 243, 301–2, 308). More particularly, there was nothing in the Ars which “troubled legitimate marriage-beds”, only those “women whose hair lacks the modest bandeau” and “whose skirts don’t reach the feet” (Ep. 3.3.50) – an allusion to a prostitute’s toga. Approach my poetry, Ovid repeats, “in the proper spirit/ and you’ll find there’s none it could do harm” (Trist. 2.275–276). In other words, he wants his poetry to be read ironically, but also didactically: The blurb which opens the Amores, a poetry of ‘teasing’ love, and the fourth defence (Am. 1.2.5). The poet as sex counsellor, writing a manual to help bemused lovers trim the margins of the law. Which was, of course, precisely Augustus’s concern. What ‘bad luck’, Ovid bemoans, that “poetry made Caesar condemn me and my life-style/ because of my Art” (Trist. 2.6–8). Perhaps, but Ovid knew precisely the risk he had taken, and the Caesar with whom he had taken it.

Ovid’s appeal to Rome failed. He would have to get used to the ‘aching cold’ of a Black Sea winter. His second appeal, however, proved to be rather more successful. The concern here becomes evident as Tristia draws to a close. What will the future think, Ovid as “poet or fashion’s pander?” (Trist. 4.9.131). “I shall be read”, he tries to convince himself, “my clarion message will go forth to countless peoples,/ my complaint shall be known world-wide” (Trist. 3.7.52, 4.9.19–20). If not now, later, for “the written word defies the years” (Ep. 4.8.50–1). And so it proved, eventually. The Renaissance mind would be entranced by Ovid: Christopher Marlowe translating the love-elegies, Shakespeare resurrecting Philomela in all her grisly glory in Titus Andronicus, Ben Jonson venturing a hero of poetic liberty in his Poetaster. And on through the Enlightenment into modernity: from Lord Byron’s Bride of Abydos and Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts to Ted Hughes’s Tales from Ovid, Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Song of the Nightingale and Sarah Kane’s Cleansed. Each reinvesting a different Ovid, variously lyrical, ironic and savage.

Our closer concern is, though, with Ovid the jurist. It is fair to say that there is rather less Roman poetry in ‘law and literature’ scholarship, than there is Renaissance drama or existential angst, rather less Ovid than Shakespeare, Dickens or Dostoevski. That picture is though changing, and it seems only appropriate that Ovid can be discerned at the vanguard of a Roman advance across the landscape of literary jurisprudence. A pioneering presence might anyway be discerned in critical studies of Roman law and society (Verducci 1985; Edwards 2009; Richlin 1992; Balsley 2010; VerSteeg/Barclay 2003). More recently, though, the critical Ovid has mutated, assuming a more obviously juristic shape. The distinctively modern, as well as jurisprudential, Ovid discerned by Ioannis Ziogas (2021), for example. The incipient hero of liberal democracy in Heather James’s account of Renaissance constitutional culture (James 2021). There will be more, we can hope. Not least for the reasons to which we have alluded. Ovid can tell us much about Roman law, and more still perhaps about our law.


1. Classical texts

Res Gestae divi Augusti, Text, Translation and Commentary by Alison Cooley, Cambridge: CUP 2009.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Orationes, ed. by Albert Curtis Clark, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1908.

Publius Ovidius Naso, The Love Poems, ed. by Edward J. Kenney, Oxford: OUP 1990.

Publius Ovidius Naso, Heroides, translated by Harold Isbell, London: Penguin 22004.

Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses, ed. by Hugo Magnus, Gotha: Perthes 1892.

Publius Ovidius Naso, Metamorphoses, translated by A. D. Melville, with an introduction and notes by Eward J. Kenney, Oxford: OUP 1986.

Publius Ovidius Naso, Fasti, ed. and translated by Anne Wiseman/Peter Wiseman, Oxford: OUP 2011.

Publius Ovidius Naso, Tristia. Ex Ponto, ed. and translated by Arthur Leslie Wheeler, revised by G. P. Goold, Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP 1924.

Publius Ovidius Naso, The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters, ed. and translated with an introduction, notes, and a glossary by Peter Green, Berkeley/Los Angeles/London: California UP 2005.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca minor, Dialogorum libri duodecim, ed. by L. D. Reynolds, Oxford: OUP 1977.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca minor, Dialogues and Essays, transl. by John Davie, with an introduction and notes by Tobias Reinhardt, Oxford: OUP 2007.

Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta. Memorable doings and sayings, 2 vol.s, ed. and translated by D. R. Shackleton Bailey, Cambridge MA: Harvard UP 2000.

Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals, ed. Alfred John Church, William Jackson Brodribb, New York: Random House, reprinted 1942.

Iulius Paulus, Sententiae Receptae,

Corpus Iuris Civilis, ed. Theodor Mommsen/Paul Krüger, Berlin: Weidmann 1911.

The Digest of Justinian, translated by Alan Watson, revised edition, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998.

2. Modern Literature

Kathryn Balsey (2010): Between Two Lives: Tiresias and the Law in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Dictynna 7, 13–31.

Nina Barclay / Russ VerSteeg (2003): Rhetoric and Law in Ovid’s Orpheus, Law and Literature 15, 395–420.

Graziana Brescia (2019): Infamis in novercam: Ius occidendi e pietas paterna a Roma tra retorica e diritto, Bolletino di Studi Latini XLIX:1, 44–60.

Catharine Edwards (2009): The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome, Cambridge: CUP.

Jacob Giltaij (2019): lex Iulia de Maritandis Ordinibus, Oxford Classical Dictionary,

Jill Harries (2007): Law and Crime in the Roman World, Cambridge: CUP.

Edward J. Kenney (1969): Ovid and the Law, Yale Classical Studies 21, 241–63.

Heather James (2021): Ovid and the Liberty of Speech in Shakespeare’s England, Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Thomas A. J. McGinn (2003): The Lex lulia de Adulteriis Coercendis, in: Prostitution, Sexuality, and the Law in Ancient Rome, Oxford: OUP, 140–215.
DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195161328.001.0001.

Nghiem L. Nguyen (2006): Roman Rape: An Overview of Roman Rape Laws from the Republican Period to Justinian’s Reign, Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 13.1, 75-112.

Rebecca Resinski (2014): Ovidian Ambivalence and Response to Myrrha in Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses and Bidart’s Desire, International Journal of the Classical Tradition 21, 273–295.

Amy Richlin (1992): Reading Ovid’s Rapes, in: Amy Richlin (ed.), Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome, Oxford: OUP.

Florence Verducci (1985): Ovid’s Toyshop of the Heart, Princeton NJ: Princeton UP.

Ioannis Ziogas (2021): Law and Love in Ovid: Courting Justice in the Age of Augustus, Oxford: OUP.

Copyright © 2022 by

Ian Ward ian[dot]ward[at]ncl[dot]ac[dot]uk

How to cite this entry

Ian Ward (2022): Ovid, in: Thomas Gutmann, Eberhard Ortland, Klaus Stierstorfer, eds., Encyclopedia of Law and Literature,
doi: 10.17879/22049776449


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