Rethinking Women's Roles: Perspectives from the Pacific by Denise O'Brien, Sharon Tiffany

By Denise O'Brien, Sharon Tiffany

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The letter appears to be a straightforward, unreconstructed medium revealing the authentic thoughts and emotions of the writer. "Demetrius" explicitly asserts that a writer yields his innermost character in his letters. Discussing ideal content, he claims that an epistle brings to light an image of the writer's sou1. " The reader's expectation that an epistle reveal its writer with absolute honesty would shelter Ovid's motives for such a selfportrait from too close scrutiny. And yet, let us consider for a moment the extent to which the letter really does unveil the true, innermost character of its writer.

In fact, here the aliquis tells his audience about the layout of the land, the positioning of important warriors, and the dragging of Hector's corpse (31-36). Once again, a man communicates most significantly through speech. Throughout the epistle Penelope reveals that she has granted primacy to the medium of oral discourse over the written word. By her own admission she has already sent countless letters to Ulysses. No communication ensues; she acquires no new information about her husband based on responses generated by her Epistolary Narrative and Ovid's Heroines epistles.

By incorporating these words into his epistles alongside his own, the poet introduces a second speaker into the inherently monologic structure of the letter, striving thus to fashion the effect of dialogue. 3D Writing letters not only allows correspondents to imagine that they are engaging in dialogue but almost magically conjures up physical apparitions. To yet another friend, Ovid insists that the simple act of composing a letter allows the poet "to see [his addressee's] facial expressions in his mind's eye" (et videor vultus mente videre tUOS),31 and thus create a sense of presence.

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