Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: May 1, 2023 Last updated: May 1, 2023


Speaker: Lucy Mudie

Title: Blurred Lines

Subtitle: The Rape Culture of Ovid's Ars Amatoria

Conference: Ancient Rape Cultures: Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian. International Conference (Organizer: Elina Pyy) - Online Program

Session: Session 6: Roman Rape Cultures - Literary Perspectives (Chair: Tuomo Salokas)

Place: Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Rome, Italy

Date: October 28, 2022

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Roman History | Types / Society: Rape Culture; Rape; Representations: Literary Texts / Ovid





Absract: »Rape is an act of non-consensual sex, but how might we define sexual consent? Sexual consent is a relatively new concept; ideally it is an explicit agreement made by both partners before engaging in sex, but what about the influence of manipulation, deception, and grooming? Social movements such as #MeToo have helped improve awareness about consent and the prevalence of sexual abuse and rape in our society. Our understanding of sexual abuse and rape is progressively changing, and this also impacts the way in which we perceive ancient texts hermeneutically. This paper proposes to read Ovid's Ars Amatoria through the lens of the consent movement. Ovid's poem contains a toxic rape culture of manipulation and grooming, and while the poem does not purport to explicitly teach its readers how to break the Roman rape law of stuprum, it is clear that its seduction methods are exploitative. The male studentlovers of the Ars Amatoria are instructed to deceive, entrap, and manipulate their beloveds into having sex (1.269-70). Sex is the ultimate goal in this predatory game, and in the first book of the Ars men are envisaged as hunters on the prowl for puellae in Rome. A lack of consent is presented as a challenge which must be overcome by force (Ars 1.673), and the lover is instructed to persist no matter what his beloved says (1.485-8). The Ovidian poet-speaker's ambivalence towards rape is showcased by the sympathetic focalisation of the despairing Sabines about to be raped by Romulus' men (1.101-34), and a later disparaging view of Deidamia, raped by Achilles, when she beckons him back to her bed (1.691-704). What is the implied authorial intention behind this rape culture of the Ars Amatoria? Is it a sincere portrait or a satirical commentary?« (Source:

Wikipedia: Ancient history: Ancient Rome | Literatue: Latin literature / Ovid | Literatue: Rape in fiction / Ars Amatoria | Sex and the law: Rape / Rape culture, Sexuality in ancient Rome