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The Amazon Kindle: an Ovidian allusion

 
Thursday, January 31, 2008, 09:12 - Books, dictionaries and texts, Latin Language, Poetry, Literature, Music, Reviews
Posted by Administrator
In case you haven't noticed, Amazon is really pushing their own somewhat proprietary eBook reader called Kindle. Generally, I tend to stay tuned to advances in digital text technologies. So far, I liked the Sony device better. But all that is completely beside the point. I just wanted to share my very first reaction to the actual name of this device. When I first heard of 'Kindle' my spontaneous associations were rather amusing.

In Amores i.12 Ovid talks about the wax tablets that he had previously sent to his girlfriend. Well, she sent them back with a message telling the poet that she will not be able to visit him today. Ovid's descent into love-induced sadness spawns a series of invectives directed to none other that the wretched tablets. The first words that come to Ovid's mind are these:

ite hinc, difficiles, funebria ligna, tabellae...

Basically, the poet calls his wax tables "funereal firewood". Naturally, a tablet-like device dubbed 'Kindle' immediately caused me to think of this line!

Later on, Ovid calls his tablets inutile lignum - useless firewood, and expresses a strong desire to throw his primitive 'Kindle' out on the cross-roads where it would get crushed by a passing wheel. He also curses the maker of the tablets... Anyway, I hope every owner of a 'Kindle' is less displeased with their purchase than Ovid was with his wax tablets.

By the way, since old-school philology often insists on students remembering where exactly a certain passage comes from, a good mnemonic clue for remembering the number of this poem in Amores would be to think of the Twelve Tables. Hence - Amores i.12.

Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device
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