Ovid: The Art ofLove (Study Guide)

Study Guide for Ovid: The Art ofLove

Notes for the translation by Rolfe Humphries of selections from theAmores and the Ars Amatoria.
Publius Ovidus Naso (Ovid):The Loves (25 - 16 BCE?)
Read the introduction to this translation. Some of the references to modernculture have dated since 1957, but it is still interesting and useful. WhatHumphries does not make clear is that these originally rather frivolous poems hada momentous influence on later European civilization. It was not only Chaucer whoread Ovid's love poetry; every educated person with the slightest interest in thesubject did so. Unfortunately much of his humor was lost on Medievalinterpreters, and they often discussed his ideas over - seriously in the contextwhich came to be known as "courtly love" - - a concept which would havebeen alien - - and ridiculous - - to Ovid. His beloved was typically a pretty butordinary courtesan, not a noble lady in a tower. He makes it clear repeatedlythat for him love (read "sex") is a game much like poker, demandinggreat powers of strategy and deception, but not the very foundation of lifeitself. The continuing fame of these poems was owed partly to his authorship of amuch greater work, the Metamorphoses, by far the most importantsource for Greco - Roman mythology for later Europeans. His Tristiarecount his lonely banishment away from Rome at the end of his life. It issometimes suggested that the puritanical Emperor Augustus exiled him because hewas offended by Ovid's love poetry, but this is uncertain.
If his voice seems amazingly contemporary it is because of his "modern"cynicism and frank pleasure in sex for its own sake. Some readers find himoffensive, but in a familiar way: there are plenty of men around today who thinkjust like him. What can take the edge of the offense is his self - deprecatinghumor. Note the many passages in which he is clearly making fun of himself. Whatis definitely not contemporary about Ovid is his love for mythological allusion.The modern reader may feel frustrated by these "interruptions" whichwere read fluently as decorative touches in his own time by an audience extremelyfamiliar with the myths to which he alludes. Feel free to skim through thesepassages, but you may find that the following notes add a lot to yourunderstanding of these writings by explaining the various allusions. He returnsto some stories over and over again. Rather than constantly repeat the sameexplanations, I have created links so that you may look up figures discussedearlier. Remember that after following a link you need to click the "back" buttonto return to the spot where you were reading. In these notes the Roman names aregenerally used, i.e. "Ulysses" rather than "Odysseus,""Jupiter" rather than "Zeus."
Book I:
Elegy I
Ovid's contemporary Virgil had begun his mostfamous poem, the Aeneid, with the line "Arms and the man Ising." These elegies are written in lines shorter by one foot than thehexameters that are used for more solemn epic works like the Aeneid.
Minerva (Greek Athena) is the goddess of wisdom, not normallymixed up with the love - goddess Venus. Ceres is thegrain - goddess, Diana the huntress of the forests. Apollo is the god of peaceful arts like poetry and music, Mars the god of war. Orpheus was also ademigod of music. In other words: "Don't mix things up: stick to what you'regood at."
Helicon was the home of the Muses,inspirers of the arts; so Cupid is rebuking Ovid for thinking that he is thecenter of the creative universe when he's only a participant on the fringes. Notehow even Ovid, always heterosexual, casually offers homosexuality as analternative.
How does Cupid answer his claim that he cannot write love poetrybecause he is not in love with anyone?
Myrtle is associated with Venus.
Elegy II
The stereotype of the sleepless lovesick youth waslong established by the time Ovid expressed it, but he conveys a particularlyvivid impression of it. Remember that such love - longing was diagnosed as aclinical illness in ancient times, usually treatable only by lovemaking.
Notehis ingenious examples of self - defeating struggle. He gladly surrenders to Cupid,telling him that he can celebrate a triumphal procession of the kind allotted tomilitary leaders who succeeded in adding territory to the Roman Empire, butdecorated with objects associated with Venus, such as a myrtle wreath substitutedfor the usual laurel. Captured prisoners were a feature of such processions.
"Hosannahs" is of course biblical Hebrew, and only a loose translationfor a word meaning "cheers."
What sort of companions does he sayLove has?
Bacchus was thought of as an "eastern" god, and said tohave invaded and conquered India.
The final lines are an obsequious complimentto the mercy of Augustus, the same ruler who - - nevertheless - - was to banish thepoet from Rome.
Elegy IV
Most of these poems are addressed to single young women, mostly courtesans. Thisparticularly outrageous example of Ovid's humor may well be a cynical fiction.Obviously if he was trying to keep an affair such as this secret, he would nothave published the poem. (Publishing consisted in the hand - copying of works forsale, and Ovid was a best - selling author.) The humor of the poem lies in thepoet's frantic jealousy of his mistresses' husband. His elaborate system ofsymbolic gestures is meant more to be amusing than serious, as the conclusionreveals. To understand this poem one needs to understand that dining was normallydone reclining on couches, leaning on one elbow, two to a couch.
The Lapithking Peiritho├╝s tried to make peace with the savage Centaurs, half - man, halfhorse, by inviting them to his wedding. However, the drunken Centaurs tried tocarry off the Lapith women and restarted the war they had been fighting earlier.The scene was often depicted in sculpture, notably on the pediment of the Templeof Zeus at Olympia.
The ancient Greeks and Romans mixed their water with wineto prevent its being too intoxicating, unless they were single - mindedly bent ongetting drunk.
Why is the poet especially anxious about the acts that may behidden under the couples' robes?
Note the traditional reference to the"cruel door."
Note the assumption that men's pleasure in lovemakingis strongly dependent on that of women.
What effect do the last two lines haveon your impression of his relationship to this woman?
Elegy V
This one is pure sex. If you are liable to be offended by the subject matter, youmay skip it. The time is the mid - day break, when almost all Italians still takean after - lunch nap. Here we meet Corinna, the main subject of these poems.
Semiramis was a mighty Assyrian Queen whose original name was Sammuramat (r.810 - 805 BCE), and who was responsible for huge construction projects during herreign. However, legends developed around her, first transforming her into agoddess and later into a highly romantic figure. One of these legends is retoldin Rossini's opera Semiramide.
Lais was a Corinthian courtesanlegendary for her extraordinary beauty.
Pro forma meanssomething like "for appearances' sake."
Ovid belongs to the oldschool of thought which does not take women's reluctance to engage in sexseriously. Although this pattern of thought has caused a lot of damage over thecenturies, and continues to do so, it is important to remember that in the pastboth men and women accepted the notion that courtship usually involved theovercoming of resistance, the latter necessary to prove that the woman was notutterly debauched. This poem would not have conveyed any notion of rape toancient readers. This is the most explicit poem about lovemaking in all ofClassical Latin literature.
Elegy VI
The door poem (Greek paraklausithyron) was a highly stereotypedform. It is enough for the poet to mention a door, and the entire situation isbrought to mind: the lover shut out, complaining, from the woman locked within.This one, however, is original in that it is addressed to the doorkeeper, chainedto his post. The refrain printed in italics suggests a ritual hymn, for it is notthe sort of thing normally used in secular poems like this.
This poemintroduces another traditional symptom of lovesickness: loss of appetite. Underwhat condition would the poet be willing to be a slave like the doorkeeper?
Boreas, the north wind, fell in love with Oreithiya, daughter of Erectheus, kingof Athens. Since the north wind blew to Greece from the direction of Thrace,Boreas was thought of as a Thracian, a people hated by the Athenians. Rejected byher father, he swooped down on Oreithiya and carried her off to Thrace.
A "chaplet" is a decorative garland worn to parties.It was traditional for lovers to hang their garlands on the beloveds' doors as anoffering, but he flings his on the doorstep as a symbol of his wasted night. Notealthough the poem recounts his utter failure, by retelling the story in a poem heclearly hopes to influence the woman who has instructed her slave to keep thedoor locked.
Elegy VII
For most of its length, this poem seems a sincere attempt at repenting hisviolence against Corinna. He realizes he has brutalized her and is trying to makeup with her by accusing himself. However, the final impish line is ambiguous. Itcould mean that he isn't truly repentant: he is more embarrassed than contrite.Or it could be a satire on his own superficiality.
At first, trying to justifyhis use of violence, he cites other wild madmen from the past, including Ajax,the great Trojan War hero, who in a crazed fit of spite at having not beenawarded the dead Achilles' arms, ran amuck among the herds under the delusionthat the cows were his Greek enemies.
Orestes was famous for avenging themurder of his father Agamemnon by killing his faithless mother Clytemnestra. Hewas punished for this deed by madness.
Note how he quickly rejects his ownargument.
The beautiful princess Atalanta was abandoned as a baby, butsuckled by a bear and raised by hunters. She swore to remain unmarried so shecould continue to pursue her favorite but unfeminine pastime of hunting. Herfather Iasus was king of Maenalus
Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos ofCrete who helped Theseus slay the Minotaur and for her pains was abandoned byhim on the island of Naxos.
Cassandra was a Trojan princess who resistedApollo's attempts to seduce her. According to one story, he granted her the giftof true prophecy, but when she continued to resist, he cursed her: no one wouldever believe her prophecies. At the fall of Troy, Ajax raped her at the foot ofthe altar of Athena. In the original all three of these are loosely linked byreferences to their hair.
The Greek Diomedes was said to have wounded Venus(who sided with the Trojans) in battle.
Ovid goes on sarcastically to urgehimself to celebrate his "triumph" over Corinna with a procession likethat described above in the notes to Elegy II.
Jove isanother name for Jupiter, the mighty sky god of thunder and lightning.
Whatare the two alternatives he says he wished had happened instead of his brutalassault on her?
Paros was renowned for its white marble.
Whatever you thinkof his behavior, the final lines reveal considerable insight into the nature ofguilt. What two alternatives does he offer to make himself feel better?
Elegy XIII
"The bright one" is Aurora, the dawn, who leaves the bed of her agedlover Tithonus each morning, her rosy fingers turning the sky pink. Because shegets no pleasure from him any longer, she is jealous of other lovers. Memnon washer son, an Ethiopian king, the smoke from whose funeral pyre was transformedinto starlings which returned annually to his grave to sprinkle it with water.
This is one of many poems calling upon the dawn to hold back its coming so thatthe delights of nighttime may be prolonged. The line "Run slowly, slowly,horses of the night" is frequently quoted. What other kinds of peoplebesides lovers does he say would like the nights to be longer?
Spinning andweaving were enormously time - consuming tasks that almost all women engaged inwhenever they were not doing other work.
The sun was imagined to ride acrossthe sky in a chariot, so Ovid wishes its axle would break.
Aurora asked thegods to give her Tithonus immortal life, but she forgot to ask them to keep himyoung. Tragically, he aged indefinitely and grew ugly and repulsive to her.
When the virginal moon goddess Luna fell in love with the beautiful youthEndymion he was punished by Jupiter by being put permanently, eternally tosleep.
Jupiter, desiring Amphitryon's wife Alcmene, disguised himself as herhusband and miraculously prolonged the night in order to prolong his pleasurewith her. As a result, she bore the hero Hercules.
Note the humor in the finallines. Ovid often portrays himself as a loser.
Book II
Elegy II
This is one of Ovid's cynical celebrations of adultery as a harmless game. Inthe Middle Ages adultery was to become transformed into a quasi - religious ritual,very different from this, but often involving the same complications.
Bagoasis the slave employed by Ovid's mistress' husband to guard over her. Ovidthreatens and cajoles him in an attempt to have some "harmless" funwith the wife. This list of instructions may be compared with those to the wifein Book I, Elegy 4. The Palatine Hill overlooking the Forumwas the site of the homes of rulers of Rome.
The rites of Isis were supposedto be attended only by women, so the guard would have to stay outside.
"Gaol" is the English spelling for "jail."
Tantalus was punished in Hades by being confined in a poolwith a fruit tree bending over it. When he stooped to drink the water, it flowedaway; when he reached for the fruit, it sprang out of his reach,tantalizing him.
"Argo" seems here to be simply asynonym for Argus, the hundred - eyed guard set to guard Io.
Flagrantedilecto is a legal term meaning "in the act" (literally"flagrantly committing the crime").
Elegy VI
Ovid's elegy to a pet bird is much longer and more complex than Catullus', a fact which does not necessarily makeit better. The main difference is that Ovid plunges into the realm of myth, as heso often does, to develop his thought. One can see why this poet went on to writethe Metamorphoses.
Note that Corinna's parrot came from India,a distant land on the borders of the empire which was reputed to harbor allmanner of wonders.
All birds are summoned to perform the funeral rites:scratching one's cheeks and breast was a standard form of ritual grieving.
Philomela is the nightingale. Itys was killed, cutup, and cooked by his mother Procne and fed to her husband Tereus in vengeancefor his rape of her sister Philomela.
Damon and Pythias were friends inSyracuse whose loyalty to each other became legendary.
It seems odd thatquails were reputed to be especially long - lived, since it is in fact parrots whichhave been known to live quite long lives.
"Water, perfectly pure" implies that no wine was mixed with it: pure water was the preferred drink of advocates of the simple life as a means to health.
Pursued by Triton, a Phocian princess prayed to Minerva to be rescued, and was turned into a raven which became the goddess' companion. However, later Minerva rejected the bird for tale - telling in favor of the owl.
Protesilaus was aneager hero, the first to land (and die) at the Trojan War whereas Thersites wasan ugly, deformed coward who jeered at his own leaders. Similarly, Homer depictsHector (who killed Protesilaus) as the courageous leader of the Trojan forces,disdainful of his younger brother Paris, who had caused the war by carrying offAgamemnon's wife Helen.
Hector's father Priam opposed the war from thebeginning, had to plead with the Greeks for his son's body, and was ignominiouslyslain at the end of the war.
The thread of life was spun out, measured, andcut by the three women known as Fates.
Elysium (or "the ElysianFields") was a paradise mortals who had been made immortal lived. Somewriters like Ovid portray it as a reward for virtue: in others it is simply theabode of those who have pleased the gods, not always by good behavior.
Therewas only one phoenix which periodically set itself on fire and was reborn. It isnot usually associated with Elysium, but Ovid is reaching for relevantmythological birds.
Juno, the wife of Jupiter, had as her companion apeacock.
Which of the parrot's qualities attracts most of Ovid's attention(unsurprisingly, given his vocation as a writer)?
Elegies VII & VIII
This pair of elegies inspires indignation in some readers: What an outrageousliar and cheat! The mean - spirited attempt at blackmail at the conclusion of ElegyVIII is especially revolting. Other readers find the poet's impish antics highlyamusing. But it is important to remember that it is Ovid the poet who has createdthese two works and set them side by side to create the portrait of anunscrupulous philanderer that results. This is no pair of private letters, but asatirical set piece, carefully conceived to portray a probably fictional loverwho thinks he can get away with anything, but who is in fact in deeptrouble - - rejected both by Corinna and Cypassis. The narrator in these, as in allthe poems, is a persona created by the author but not necessarily to beidentified with him on every point.
Both Agamemnonand Achilles were great warriors infatuated byslaves.
Elegy XIII
Abortion, though disapproved of in Rome, was notuncommon; but the means used were highly dangerous to the woman. On what groundsdoes the poet object to Corinna's abortion attempt?
Posse="could be;" esse= "is." The poet prays to theEgyptian goddess Isis, the special guardian of women. Osiris is herbrother/husband.
The passage about the Gallic horsemen evidently refers tosculptures near the temple of Isis. Note how Ovid observes his own tactlessnessin the final lines.
Elegy IX
Corinna's husband (unmentioned previously) seems to be making her affair with thepoet insufficiently difficult. The poet argues that obstacles created by hisrival stimulate his passion. This sort of sophisticated perversity is far removedfrom the direct passion of a Sappho. Clearly the poem is not to be readliterally. He would not have sent this poem to the betrayed husband; he is merelysatirizing what he sees as his foolish tolerance. Cuckolds (men whose wivescommit adultery) are the object of much satirical humor from ancient timesthrough the 18th century. He also tries to arouse jealous fears in the husband,taunting him.
Danae's father Acrisius, learning from anoracle that his grandson would kill him, imprisoned her in a bronze cell butJupiter (Jove) impregnated her in the form of a shower of gold. Juno's jealousattempt to prevent Jove from making love with Io by turning her into a cow failedwhen he continued to pursue her.
The tablets brought by the maid would havebeen letters which were inscribed on wax - covered tablets.
Book III
Elegy II
This is a wonderfully livelyportrait of a day at the races by a man who would rather look at women thanhorses. This translation is particularly colloquial, with many modern touches notstrictly faithful to the original; but the spirit is captured vividly.
Pelopswon the hand of the Princess Hippodameia by cheating in a chariot race,sabotaging his rival's vehicle. He thinks his girlfriend mayhave prettier legs than even the beautiful Atalanta who raced against and wonmany suitors for her hand, only to be overtaken by Milanion when he distractedher with three golden apples given him by Venus.
Diana the huntress was alsoreputedly a swift runner. Thus does the poet combine his themes: beautiful womenand racing.
The victory the poet prays for is of course over the woman'sresistance.
Neptune was god of the sea, which Ovid hated.
A common sort ofmiracle in ancient Rome was the reported nodding of the head of a god's statue,signifying approval of a prayer.
The poet says he will worship the woman morethan Venus herself.
Ovid reworked this poem in a passage ofBook I of The Art of Love.
Elegy IV
This is a variation of the address to the cuckoldedhusband, but this time the argument is that possessiveness only makes a wiferestive and more likely to betray her spouse. Sentiments like these were repeatedin countless tales and poems in the late Middle Ages. Jealousy, it was insisted,destroys love. This is of course a convenient philosophy for a would - be seducerof wives.
Her "person" is her body.
Argus is usually said tohave been killed by Hermes, but Ovid says he was blinded by love.
See thenotes to Book II, Elegy XIX for Danae.
Penelope wasUlysses' (Odysseus') wife, who waited faithfully for his return from the TrojanWar for twenty years, despite being besieged by numerous suitors.
The poeteven goes so far as to argue impudently that adultery (strictly outlawed inAugustine's Rome, though the law was frequently broken) is not only a trivialmatter, but can be highly respectable, citing instances from mythology, whichindeed abounds with illicit unions - - one of the reasons that the Greeks and Romansdid not base their ethics on their religion.
The notion that all womenbeautiful enough to attract lovers will have them is repeatedly endlessly in lateMedieval and Renaissance satires. An entire book of Rabelais' Gargantuaand Pantagruel is based on this theme. Obviously those who thought ofthemselves as potential lovers hoped this was so. From ancient times to the 19thcentury, the stereotype of the uncontrollable sexuality of women dominated muchthinking about them. The rise of Victorianism, which viewed men as more sexualthan women, marked a revolutionary change in European thinking, and one which didnot go unchallenged.
According to Ovid, what are the advantages of being acuckold?
Elegy XIA & B
Ovid tries to bid farewell to the fickle Corinna, but finds he cannot.
Thereis a saying that "Jove laughs as the oaths of lovers." Ovid accuses thegods of corruption in supporting such laxity. Even if she rejects him, he willcontinue to love her.
The Art of Love (2 - 1 BCE)
The Art of Love

3612 Worte in "deutsch"  als "hilfreich"  bewertet