Painting of a woman

“Pudor est miscendus amori”: Verbal depiction of shame in Ovid’s Heroides

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 15th April 2021
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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Artemis Archontogeorgi
(Democritus University of Thrace)

In Ovid’s Heroides, a collection of fifteen letters addressed by women of Greek and Roman mythology to men who have abandoned them, the dominant emotion is love. Rational or irrational, altruistic or selfish, fulfilled or not, yet demanding love within the epistolary collection creates affairs that bring forth issues of shame. Keynote terms, such as pudor, pudicitia and verecundia, appear into various contexts and with a diversity of meaning, as the female epistolary writers integrate them in their argumentation towards their long gone lovers. Furthermore, the semantic breadth of the terms denoting shame depends on the social nature of the emotion, and, thus, it varies according to gender and social position, while, at the same time, this ambiguity makes their translation difficult or problematic.

The present paper, which is part of my PhD Thesis “Desire and emotion in Ovid’s Heroides”, attempts to explore the lexical field of shame in Ovid’s Heroides, to compile a vocabulary list of the emotion in the Ovidian text and to interpret the narrative purpose of the terms denoting shame in each letter, as well as the interwoven connections among the letters of the collection. Although, the paper focuses on the verbal depiction and literary interpretation of shame as a female emotion, it does not overlook the male heroes, as they are presented by the female epistolary writers in the gender reversed elegiac environment of the epistles.

Please email Rachael Cornwell ( or Daniel Lowes ( for the zoom link.