“Living in a place called exile” : the universals of the alienation caused by isolation
Please cite as follows:
Claassen, J. 2003. 'Living in a place called exile': The universals of the alienation caused by isolation. Literator, 24(3):85-112, doi:10.4102/lit.v24i3.302.
The original publication is available at http://literator.org.za
Although various aspects of Ovid’s emotional reactions to exile have been researched, there has so far been no extended practical study that places the emotional content of his works into a new political context. In this respect Ovid’s voicing of his experiences can serve to illuminate the experiences of latter-day exiles. This article attempts to establish, by literary means, a picture of the alienation attendant upon exile and its sublimation. For this purpose the poetry of Ovid, as well as that of certain modern authors, is used as illustration. There are many parallels between the Rome of the turn of our era and the South Africa of previous decades: exile was a political weapon in both. Themes reflecting alienation in Ovid’s poems are universal, and still valid in situations of exile today. Ovid’s portrayal of his own exiled persona is used to draw a psychological profile of the experiences of alienation during such exile. This profile may be termed the “universals of alienation”, which is applied to the exile or imprisonment of the victims of contemporary political upheaval. The extent to which the verbalisation of such alienation serves to heal such a wounded soul is explored.