Sunday, February 19, 2017

Publius Ovidius Naso, aka Ovid: Amores I (16 B. C.)

Villa Mysteriorum, Pompeii
Ovid's Amores I, published in 16 B.C. (about 2,033 years before this A.D. 2017 post), reveals that human nature is pretty much the same now as it was then. In this volume and its sequels, Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) delves into the arts of love, falling in love, crazy love (amour fou), forbidden love, unrequited love, recovery from love, and everything in between.

Besides much hilarity and keen observations that will seem familiar to anyone who's experienced any of these circumstances or altered states of being, Ovid equates love and war. As in, "all's fair in love and war" -- though little would seem equally fair in either love or war. 

Every time I read Ovid, it's hard not to smile.

Here are a few jots and tittles from the Peter Green translation, Ovid, The Erotic Poems: The Amores, The Art of Love, Cures for Love, On Facial Treatment for Ladies (London, Penguin classics, 1982).

'Love, like war, is a toss-up. The defeated can recover,
    While some you might think invincible collapse;
So if you've got love written off as an easy option
    You'd better think twice. Love calls
For guts and initiative.'                                                                (pages 101-102)

Fresque de Pompéi (Musée archéologique de Naples)
'If you want a cure for slackness, fall in love.'                             (page 102)

On nagging:

     'I've come to my senses, your profile leaves me cold.
Why am I different? you ask. I'll tell you.  Because you keep nagging
    For presents. That's what turns me off.'                                (page 102)


'Quit wanting, and I'll give.'                                                          (page 104)

On the sly and in reconnoitering for signs of his paramour's feelings and desires, Ovid directs Corinna's hairdresser Napë:  

'Watch her face and eyes . . . Expressions can be revealing of things to come.' (ditto.)

Like Sun-Tzu's The Art of War (circa 500 B.C.), Ovid's "Erotic Poems" serve as a poetic, philosophical and practical treatise on The Art of LoveWar that is still valid and quite relevant. Good stuff.  

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.  


t said...

1. How do you (people) manage to (have) read so much? I've still never read Ovid. Tips?

2. Proud tradition of love poets though, eh, eh? Insert my ad for Lovebirds here :) :)

t said...

Well, today was the first I heard of Amores. Now I checked amazon and awww, charming lines, and again the freakishly direct link with Lovebirds, after all these 2000 years like you say.

It turns out that Metamorphoses (spelling?) includes stories we've heard/read in condensed this lovely little storybook called Men and Gods in my secondary school, and now in rap music (Icarus at least)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It would appear that love is not, nor ever has been, for the faint of spirit. No wonder humans go to war instead!

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks for the comments! I aim to read as much as possible within realistic social limits and work at a library, so books are everywhere for the cherry-picking . . . And: I will be sure to get to Lovebirds ~ cheers ~ huzzah ~ !