Your RDA of Irony

Crime and Punishment and Real Estate

In my meanderings through the internet, I came across a reference to the Roman poet Ovid. Since he is assigned reading in Classics 101 and merits an occasional question on Jeopardy, the man obviously has achieved immortality. That might have been some consolation to a man who was condemned for immorality in ancient Rome. To earn that kind of distinction, one might have had to debauch every vestal virgin and the entire Praetorian Guard, probably on the same night. (Imagine that Viagra Commercial!)  Unfortunately, Ovid really was the victim of guilt by association. At worst, he simply was the poet laureate of certain orgies, those of the daughter of Augustus.

But Augustus didn’t approve of family scandals. The Emperor couldn’t prosecute everyone at his daughter’s orgies–that would have been a class action suit–but he could punish the most conspicuous participants. And a celebrity poet made a great example. So Ovid ended up exiled, spending his last years on the Romanian coast of the Black Sea.

Think of the irony: a Roman’s idea of punishment is a East European’s idea of vacation. Imagine if Dostoyevsky had been exiled there instead of Siberia. How would his outlook have changed….

Crime and Punishment“: In an attempt to demonstrate his superior will, Rodya steals an apple pie from the nice lady baker. Can he live with the guilt, and will he get a tummyache from eating too much?

The Brothers Karamazov“: Dad and Dmitri are vying for the affections of Grushenka, an adorable stray puppy. Ivan and Alexei debate the existence of Santa Claus; Ivan has serious doubts.

The Idiot“: Prince Mishkin is so nice that he makes everyone wish that they had epilepsy.

 

p.s.  And from last year, a birthday greeting to the “Worst Englishman of the 17th Century”: http://finermanworks.com/your_rda_of_irony/2008/09/15/a-scoundrel-ahead-of-his-time/

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