Minotaur’s Open Letter to Ovid

Minotaur’s Open Letter to Ovid

by Scott Wilkerson

Dear O.,

I hate to come on so obvious, but it is I, lurid in the face or phase of your Pasiphae, a ruined mother, like all others; and that much is true to the history as promulgated in Publius Ovidius Naso, nasal, he knows so, an oblivious no-show. Or am I being churlish?

They (oracles, Sybilline strumpets and doomed mail carriers) claim, but in hushed tones, that your loves are typical triptychs: Amores, domestic advice or private ululations on husbands in absentia, and your Heroides, just ruinously misplace a poet’s sense for the telling detail: poor Medea, Dido, Ariadne, Penelope. Or, to put it more simply: you got your facts wrong. I slice right in-half men who try to sell me on the “comic rule of three.”

True, there were others who did not look good in the final edits, but sympathetic sun gods and final-act reversals, improbable evasions from Truth are persuasive only in the context of seasonal festivals. Too bad for you, where I come from, the only difference between a Greek Bacchanal and a Roman Saturnalia is the hourly rate for the Eunuchs. And that, baby boy, is not an “issue of translation.”

So here it is: paired with Ars Amatoria, The Rape of Sabine Women begins to feels like an equivocation on the act of seduction. It is I, my eye in the face of this recursive burlesque, happy enough to see scholars quibble over the curl of my horns, speculate on my casual graffito cleaned up for authorial visits (do you yourself ever come around?), or are we just plain bound to Homeric feet, waiting to be told dread mathematica has finally failed and too-theoretical-for-his-own-good Daedalus retired to Rhodes.
And just when you thought it was safe to read the classics again, Icarus lives on in his foolish, falling, provisional sky.

That’s why I look away and laugh when poets cry.

yours in more ways than one,

– refers from the word sign in Scott Wilkerson’s poem Minotaur finds a Mirror

  1. Whew! implications of this will be bouncing around in my head all week…

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