About The Amores & Ars Amatoria by Ovid Free eBook
Publius Ovidius Naso in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature. The Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists. He enjoyed enormous popularity, but, in one of the mysteries of literary history, was sent by Augustus into exile in a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. Ovid himself attributes his exile to carmen et error, "a poem and a mistake", but his discretion in discussing the causes has resulted in much speculation among scholars.
The first major Roman poet to begin his career during the reign of Augustus, Ovid is today best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, and for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love") and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and greatly influenced Western art and literature. The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology.
The Amores, or Amours
The first two books, aimed at men, contain sections which cover such topics as 'not forgetting her birthday', 'letting her miss you - but not for long' and 'not asking about her age'. The third gives similar advice to women, sample themes include: 'making up, but in private', 'being wary of false lovers' and 'trying young and older lovers'. Although the book was finished around 2 AD, much of the advice he gives is applicable to any day and age. His intent is often more profound than the brilliance of the surface suggests. In connection with the revelation that the theatre is a good place to meet girls, for instance, Ovid, the classically educated trickster, refers to the story of the rape of the Sabine women. It has been argued that this passage represents a radical attempt to redefine relationships between men and women in Roman society, advocating a move away from paradigms of force and possession, towards concepts of mutual fulfilment.
The superficial brilliance, however, befuddles even scholars (paradoxically, Ovid consequently tended in the 20th century to be underrated as lacking in seriousness). The standard situations and cliches of the subject are treated in an entertainment-intended way, with details from Greek mythology, everyday Roman life and general human experience. Ovid likens love to military service, supposedly requiring the strictest obedience to the woman. He advises women to make their lovers artificially jealous so that they do not become neglectful through complacency. Perhaps accordingly, a slave should be instructed to interrupt the lovers' tryst with the cry 'Perimus' ('We are lost!'), compelling the young lover to hide in fear in a cupboard. The tension implicit in this uncommitted tone is reminiscent of a flirt, and in fact, the semi-serious, semi-ironic form is ideally suited to Ovid's subject matter. Free eBook