Censorship in Ovid’s Myths

Titian-diana-actaeon-NG6611-r-two-third Actaeon
The brutal silencing of Actaeon through metamorphosis and then death sheds some light on the exile of Ovid by Augustus. Does innocence matter when the powerful are outraged? Artworks depicting this tale reveal what it means to be silenced forever. Read more >>
Antonio_Tempesta_Arachne Arachne
Arachne and Ovid are linked by art; she weaves tapestries while he composes verse but both describe the sex crimes and metamorphoses of the gods. Arachne’s tapestry is without fault but a powerful authority punishes her severely, forcing us to recall that Ovid, too, was punished for a masterful artwork.  Read more >>
Ursa Major Constellation Callisto
Ovid’s tale of Callisto and Jupiter portrays censorship as the removal of an apparent threat to the values of a community. Transformation into a bear censors Callisto by taking away the power to speak, but she loses her voice, and the freedom to act independently in other ways, too.  Read more >>
Philomela and Procne Philomela
Ovid’s banishment may have hindered his ability to compose poetry, but Ovid managed to complete or revise several great works in exile. Ovid’s experience of censorship resonates in the story of Philomela, who refused to be silenced when her tongue was severed, turning to the written word to express herself. Read more >>
Daedalus, Pentheus, & the Pierides
Several minor characters in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, including Daedalus, Pentheus, and the Pierides, add depth and nuance to our understanding of censorship. Each of these characters is rebuked after challenging the gods or threatening to disclose restricted information. Their censorship results in serious and even fatal consequences.  Read more >>