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Document Details :

Title: Medea's Legal Apology in Ovid's Heroides 12
Author(s): ALEKOU, Stella
Journal: Latomus
Volume: 77    Issue: 2   Date: 2018   
Pages: 311-334
DOI: 10.2143/LAT.77.2.3284984

Abstract :
This paper puts forward the claim that Medea’s fictional epistle, addressed to Jason in Ovid’s Heroides 12, may be read as the poet’s legal riposte to a literary tradition that has almost systematically confined her to the role of a female murderer. The reported findings lend support to the assumption that Medea’s ultimate message to the Argonaut provides a realistic illustration of women’s position in Roman law and society that encourages an alternative reading of the heroine’s criminal status. The identification of legal terminology in Medea’s text reveals a paradoxical interaction of law and literature that activates a dynamic defence-discourse on women’s right to parenthood and property. Ovid’s Romanized version of the story can be regarded as Medea’s final attempt to legalize her criminal actions, so that her apologetic monologue, in a fictional epistle written from a feminine viewpoint, may be categorized and remembered as a legally justified ultimatum.

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