Another Look at the Poetics of Exile: Pushkin's Reception of Ovid, 1821-24
In 8 A.D., Publius Ovidius Naso was relegated to the far corner of the Roman Empire to a small city on the Black Sea, where he spent the last ten years of his life. Some 1800 years later, twenty-one-year-old Alexander Pushkin followed him there, again to the fringes of another empire. The two poets had little in common, and because both reconciled themselves to exile in such vastly different ways, any similarities between them seem at first glance coincidental. However, Pushkin’s reading of Ovid’s last collections of elegies—Tristia (12 A.D.) and Epistulae ex Ponto (13 A.D.)—and the legends he heard about Ovid in Moldavia not only find expression in various works spanning 1821–24, but also play an integral role in his larger poetic realization of exile.