Ovid: The Art of Love (Study Guide)

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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 ...

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