Above, a notorious child molester. That dirty old bird would be on a police registry these days.
Ovid tells his story, and a number of other equally appalling ones, in the Metamorphoses, a text continually read and immensely loved since Ovid’s own day. Ovid is omnipresent in Dante, and Shakespeare, and… everywhere, really; or at least was, until the the fashion came in for illiterate writers.
Mean old Ovid, however, is too strong for the stomachs of certain sensitive souls at Columbia University:
During the week spent on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” the class was instructed to read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, both of which include vivid depictions of rape and sexual assault. As a survivor of sexual assault, [a] student described being triggered while reading such detailed accounts of rape … [T]he student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text… [T]he student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class.
I feel very grateful to have bailed out of Academe when I did. My idea of a classroom is one in which nobody ever feels safe — least of all, the teacher.
The piece linked above deploys just about every buzzword associated with the current cult of hysterical hypersensitivity: safe, self-preservation, triggered, survivor, share, concerns, offensive, marginalize, identity, intervention, transgression (this one not at all in a good sense, but an unambiguously bad one); insensitive, traumatize, silence, facilitate, support, training, best practice, framing, engage, effective, feedback, addressing (‘issues’, not letters). The only one missing is ‘inappropriate’.
In general, the impression one receives is that Columbia undergraduates are hagridden, traumatized, oppressed, disadvantaged, suffering souls, shying from a trigger a minute like a skittish pony in rattlesnake country; easily intimidated and silenced, and so distressed by the coarseness of their teachers that they can barely force themselves through the classroom door.
I must say they do not make this impression in the places, numerous in my neighborhood, where they customarily resort. There, they comport themselves with an assurance bordering on insolence, and a very conspicuous air of self-satisfaction and entitlement.
Perhaps initiatives like the one quoted above are best regarded as a kind of consumer advocacy. The kids are shopping in the Columbia mall, and somebody is going to foot a pretty hefty bill for it. There is therefore every reason why they shouldn’t be inconvenienced or aggrieved by the clerks behind the counter. The customer is always right. If they find Ovid yucky and out of date, they shouldn’t have to read him.
Of course it’s overdetermined. There’s also the elite-as-victim angle. Columbia and all the Ivies are very much in the business of credentialling the future management cadre of the empire; these are people many or most of whom will be dishing out a lot more shit in their future managerial or professional lives than they will ever have to eat. No doubt there’s an element of self-absolution for them in seeing themselves as suffering, ill-used victims.