Amores and Heroides Essay

Submitted By weshouldmeetx3
Words: 1295
Pages: 6

To begin, the Amores was one of Ovid’s first works that he published in elegiac couplets. These were simply alternating lines of dactylic hexameter with dactylic pentameter. Typical didactic poetry of the time was usually written in all dactylic hexameters, which separates this work from most epic poems and making it specifically a love poem. The first book is a series of failed and successful events in terms of love and the narrator’s conquest for a woman. I’m going to briefly go through the Amores with you, noting one or two lines in each section that I either found interesting or significant. First off, the text begins with an epigram where Ovid briefly explains that he has edited his original work for the sake of helping the reader get through the text. It’s almost funny that he mentions this specifically because I had never really been able to pick up on Ovid’s humor and sarcasm. The line reads “at levior demptis poena duobus erit,” which translates to “it’s a lighter punishment with two books less.” The mere fact that he refers his own work as punishment is typical Ovidian style; to self-deprecate his own work. He then subsequently addresses that his elegiac couplets have only one less foot in them because “Cupid stole one away,” which only adds to his humor.
As in all published works, he then starts with a call to the gods and the muses to help him write the poem. Professor Starks had mentioned in class how he tends to make the reference to the muses in a sort of backhand way, and this case is no different. He depicts an image of Cupid as a “boy” who shot him with an arrow and has thus caused him to write such a poem. Towards the end of this first section, he writes “uror, et in vacuo pectore regnat Amor. Sex mihi surgat opus numeris, in quinque residat,” which translates to “I burn, and Love rules my vacant heart. Let my work rise in sex steps, fall back in five.” He, as usual, gives credit to the gods by simultaneously crediting himself. He quickly goes on in the next poem about how love has conquered him, drawing a parallel to Caesar’s conquests, as he writes “adspice cognati felicia Caesaris arma-
qua vicit, victos protegit ille manu,” which translates to “Look at Caesar’s similar fortunes of war – what he conquers, he protects with his power.” Although he uses the word “Felicia,” which would denote a positive tone, I can’t help but feel that there is a sarcastic tone as Ovid describes himself as miserably trapped by love in several previous lines.
To continue, the next poem is about how the narrator instructs his mistress, who is already married to another man and is invited to a dinner banquet with him, to avoid pleasing her husband and figure out a way to see him. The poem goes into various ways to signal each other across a room. One of his first instructions translates to “Arrive before your husband – not that I see what’s do-able, if you do come first, but still come before him.” He then proceeds to end the poem by saying that even if she does have to please her husband at the end of the night, she should “cras mihi constant voce dedisse nega,” which means to “deny you gave him anything.”
Ovid then introduces the mistress as Corinna, whom he describes as wearing a slip that seems to not want to cover her. The Latin uses words like “vincere,” “pugnare,” and “victa est,” in regards to her clothing and her body. The language suggests war and conquer, which adds to the promiscuity and sexual desire the narrator feels. He smoothly ends this section of the text with “ Cetera quis nescit? lassi requievimus ambo.
Proveniant medii sic mihi saepe dies!” which comically translates to “Who doesn’t know the story? Weary we both rested. May such afternoons often come for me!”
The next section, according to my research, was the narrator’s speech towards a doorman, apparently preventing him from seeing Corinna. Again, Ovid references the misfortune of being in love with his line “solus eram, si non saevus…