Classics Ovid’s Love Poetry
by
Thea S. Thorsen
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0279

Introduction

Always brilliantly marshaling the rich resources of the art of literature, the love poetry of the great and prolific poet Ovid (43 BCE–17/18 CE) displays a vigorous engagement with Rome and the human condition. Love permeates Ovid’s entire output. His epic masterpiece the Metamorphoses and his etiological Fasti are strongly marked by stories of love. And even in the exile to which Augustus condemned Ovid toward the end of his life, he insists, in his imaginary epitaph in Tristia 3.3.73 and his autobiography Tristia 4.10.1, that he is tenerorum lusor amorum, “the playful bard of tender loves.” Love is most conspicuously present in the earlier phase of Ovid’s career. Thus, in this poetry we find titles in which amor (love) features in various forms, such as the collection of elegies called Amores (Loves), which many think we now possess in the form of a second edition; the didactic manuals in elegiac couplets, the Ars amatoria (The art of love) 1–3; and the Remedia amoris (Cures for love). To these works belong also the fragments of the didactic Medicamina faciei femineae (Cosmetics for female beauty). Furthermore, the epistolary elegies known as the Heroides may be considered as a part of Ovid’s love poetry, since love is the common denominator of all the letters included. This work is commonly divided into two parts, the single Heroides 1–15 and the double Heroides 16–21, now frequently considered to have been composed at different times. In addition to the difficulties of establishing the chronological order of all the works of Ovid’s love poetry, the authenticity of a number of the Heroides has been questioned. Ovid’s love poetry, understood as these most conspicuously amorous works, displays a number of striking characteristics, such as sophisticated metapoetics and an innovative approach to established genres, especially that of Latin love elegy; a rich interplay with the preceding literature of both Greece and Rome and a striking interconnection of the various works by means of internal references (Ovidian loci similes, “similar passages”); a humorously playful and politically poignant engagement in the world of Augustus’s Rome and a particularly eager interest in human psychology. Finally, Ovid’s love poetry is strikingly crowded with female figures of great and varied significance.

General Overviews

The theme of love looms large in Newlands 2015, which covers all of Ovid’s output. Ovid’s love poems—more strictly understood as the Amores, Medicamina faciei femineae, Ars amatoria, Remedia amoris, and the Heroides—are seen as “love songs” within the larger framework of Ovid’s Fasti, Tristia, and Epistulae ex Ponto in Liveley 2005. Similarly Armstrong 2005 outlines the whole output of Ovid departing from central themes in the Amores, Ars amatoria, and Remedia amoris. Rimell 2006 offers important insights into the deeper interconnections between the various works of Ovid’s love poetry, including a chapter on the Metamorphoses. Focusing exclusively on all the works that belong to Ovid’s love poetry in the stricter sense, Sabot 1976 is rich and still indispensable. Similarly, Scivoletto 1976, though excluding the Medicamina faciei femineae, provides valuable insights into the more profound significance of the poetic project of Ovid’s love poetry. Since the publication of the monographs of Sabot and Scivoletto, the amatory works and the single Heroides (1–15) have tended to be treated separately in scholarship. However, Thorsen 2014 represents a recent and inclusive approach to the way in which all of these works relate to each other by means of loci similes.

Collections and Companions

Three companions are now dedicated to Ovid (Hardie 2002, Boyd 2002, and Knox 2009), all different in their scope and approach, but similarly comprehensive in terms of covering all of Ovid’s extensive output. Consequently, all three volumes contain several chapters concerning love in Ovid’s output in general, and more specifically in the works that more strictly pertain to Ovid’s love poetry. Furthermore, Knox 2006 contains groundbreaking scholarship, much of which is relevant to Ovid’s love poetry. Finally, centered exclusively on the Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris, Gibson, et al. 2006 opens up new avenues for the appreciation of Ovidian erotodidactics.

Bibliographies

The last four decades have seen fundamental changes in the appreciation of Ovid’s poetry, which includes that which centers on the theme of love. The scholarly bibliographies Myers 1999 and Schmitzer 2002 are therefore still important, almost twenty years after their publication. More recently, K. Sara Myers’s Oxford Bibliographies article in Classics “Ovid” (Myers 2016) offers a comprehensive online bibliography, which covers all of Ovid’s life and works. For a bibliography focusing exclusively on the long history of Ovidian translations and imitations in the English language through time, see Gillespie and Cummings 2004.

Translations

In addition to the number of translations of the Amores, Medicamina faciei femineae, Ars amatoria 1–3, and Remedia amoris listed in the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid”, Ovid and Ovidius Naso 2011 offers new versions of the works just mentioned, except the Ars amatoria and the Medicamina faciei femineae, while Ovid and Ovidius Naso 2014 offers an even more recent translation of the Amores, plus the Ars amatoria. Not so recent, but still highly useful, is Lenz 1965, which includes a helpful translation of Ovid’s Amores into German alongside the Latin text, while Lenz 1969 contains the German translation of Ovid’s Ars amatoria with facing original text, as does Lenz 1979 of Ovid’s Remedia amoris.

Works

The works pertaining to Ovid’s love poetry in the strict sense—the Amores, Medicamina faciei femineae, Ars amatoria 1–3, Remedia amoris, and Heroides 1–21—all belong to the genre of love elegy, inasmuch as they are all in the metrical form of the elegiac couplet and are centered on love. Amores is Ovid’s most conventional collection of love elegies, while the other works conspicuously merge several genres. Ovid combines the genre of love elegy with that of erotodidaxis in the Medicamina and the Ars amatoria (where the Medicamina are referred to as a prequel, cf. Ars 3.205–208), as well as the sequel Remedia amoris. Genre-wise, the Heroides combine love elegy with the epistolary form—in fact, Ovid refers to them simply in the singular as epistula (Ars 3.345, “letter”). The Heroides 1–15 were certainly among Ovid’s very first compositions (cf. Am. 2.18.21–34), and the conventional title (Heroides = “Heroines”) is accurate in the sense that legendary women purportedly pen the letters. In the case of the so-called double Heroides 16–21, the conventional title is misleading, as the work includes the exact number of letters purportedly penned by male (3) as the number penned by female figures (3). Views on the date differ, but an increasing number of scholars now assume that the work is a late, exilic composition. If this is the case, then Heroides 1–21 represent a ring-composition encompassing the span of Ovid’s entire literary career.

Collected Editions and Commentaries

A number of editions and commentaries of these works exist and, in addition to those included in the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid,” Ovid and Ovidius Naso 1995 is the standard edition of the Amores, Medicamina faciei femineae, Ars amatoria 1–3, and Remedia amoris, which is also included in Ovid and Ovidius Naso 2006 (which is highly valuable), while Palmer 2005a and Palmer 2005b, respectively, provide the text of and commentary on Heroides 1–21.

  • Ovid, and Publius Ovidius Naso. 1995. Amores, Medicamina faciei feminae, Ars amatoria, Remedia amoris. Edited by E. J. Kenney. Oxford Classical Texts. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    The standard edition of these works; user-friendly, with helpful critical apparatus.

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  • Ovid, and Publius Ovidius Naso. 2006. Carmina amatoria: Amores, Medicamina faciei femineae, Ars amatoria, Remedia amoris. Edited by A. Ramirez de Verger. Munich: Saur.

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    An important supplement to other editions, especially due to its rich critical apparatus.

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  • Palmer, Arthur, ed. 2005a. Publius Ovidius Naso, Heroides. Vol. 1, Introduction and Latin text, with Greek translation by Maximus Planudes. New Introduction by Duncan F. Kennedy. Exeter, UK: Bristol Phoenix Press.

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    This is a reprint of a text that was originally published in 1898, which despite its age is still very handy, as it is the most recent critical edition to date that includes all of the Heroides 1–21, plus the Byzantine scholar Planudes’ translation into Greek. The introduction by Duncan Kennedy heightens its value. Should be used along with more recent editions of the various Heroides that are now available—see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.”

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  • Palmer, Arthur, ed. 2005b. Publius Ovidius Naso, Heroides. Vol. 2, Commentary. New introduction by Duncan F. Kennedy. Exeter, UK: Bristol Phoenix.

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    A 1898 reprint, whose main merit is that it includes a commentary on all of the Heroides 1–21. It still contains valuable observations, and it gives a glimpse into the history of the authenticity debate, as Palmer defends all of the single Heroides (1–15), but not the double Heroides (16–21). Should be used along with more recent commentaries of the various Heroides that are now available—see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.”

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Amores

There are currently a number of very good editions and some equally fine commentaries for the Amores (see below); for further references, see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.” There is also a rich scholarship on the Amores, which includes some of the titles under Poet, Poetry, and Poetics and Female Figures, Marriage, and Law.

Editions and Commentaries

McKeown 1987, McKeown 1989, and McKeown 1998 are indispensable for anyone interested not only in the text, but also in the scholarship on the Amores. Ovid and Ovidius Naso 2011 offers a commentary on the third book of the work. Although listed here, all of these titles should also be consulted for their contributions to Ovid scholarship in general.

  • McKeown, J. C., ed. 1987. Ovid: Amores: Text, prolegomena and commentary: In four volumes. Vol. 1. Leeds, UK: Francis Cairns.

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    A volume that, in addition to the Latin text, contributes to the scholarship on the Amores, especially by virtue of its prolegomena.

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  • McKeown, J. C., ed. 1989. Ovid: Amores: Text, prolegomena and commentary: In four volumes. Vol. 2, A commentary on Book One. Leeds, UK: Francis Cairns.9780905205687

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    A contribution to the scholarship of the first book of the Amores, with an introduction to each poem. Full of useful observations on the poems themselves, loci similes, and the relevant scholarly literature.

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  • McKeown, J. C., ed. 1998. Ovid: Amores: Text, prolegomena and commentary: In four volumes. Vol. 3, A commentary on Book Two. Leeds, UK: Francis Cairns.

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    A contribution to the scholarship of the second book of the Amores, with an introduction to each poem. Full of useful observations on the poems themselves, loci similes, and the relevant scholarly literature.

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  • Ovid, and Publius Ovidius Naso. 2011. Amores III: A selection: 2, 4, 5, 14. Introduction by Jennifer Ingleheart, notes and vocabulary by Kathrine Radice. London: Bristol Classical Press.

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    The only existing modern commentary to (select poems from) the third book of the Amores in English. Designed for students, this volume is an accessible introduction to some of the most complex matters of Classics in general and Ovidian poetry in particular, especially as exemplified by the presentation of the much-disputed authenticity of Amores 3.5 (see also Textual Criticism and Questions of Authenticity).

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Scholarship

Hinds 2006, originally published in 1987, is seminal for the appreciation of the sophistication of Ovid’s Amores. Boyd 1997 offers interpretations within the context of literary history, while Bretzigheimer 2001 explores the work’s metapoetics of love, and the first chapter of Hardie 2002 unravels how this work employs Ovid’s poetics of illusion.

  • Boyd, Barbara Weiden. 1997. Ovid’s literary loves: Influence and innovation in the Amores. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.

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    A reappraisal of the Amores as a serious literary project steeped in the rich literary tradition of Greek and Roman antiquity. Treats a selection of poems.

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  • Bretzigheimer, Gerlinde. 2001. Ovid Amores: Poetik in der Erotik. Tübingen, Germany: Narr.

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    Monograph study of the Amores focusing on features pertaining to the work as a whole, such as inner narrative, structural components, and main characteristics.

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  • Hardie, Philip. 2002. Ovid’s poetics of illusion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    This rich monograph offers insights on the art of illusion in Ovid’s total output, with particular focus on the Amores in chapter 2, “Impossible Objects of Desire.”

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  • Hinds, Stephen. 2006. Generalizing about Ovid. In Oxford readings in Ovid. Edited by P. E. Knox, 15–50. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Groundbreaking study originally published in 1987 that successfully debunks previous understandings of Ovid as an over-explicit and shallow poet, taking as a point of departure the important poem Amores 1.5, where Corinna, the main attraction of the elegiac collection, is mentioned by name for the first time.

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Medicamina faciei femineae

Although the Medicamina faciei femineae is only preserved in the form of a fragment of about one hundred lines, there are several good editions and commentaries, as well as some excellent scholarship on the poem.

Editions and Commentaries

In addition to editions of and commentaries on this work listed in the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid,” Ovid and Ovidius Naso 1995 remains an accessible introduction to this work in Italian, while Johnson 2016 offers new contexts for the work.

  • Johnson, Marguerite. 2016. Ovid on cosmetics: Medicamina faciei femineae and related texts. London: Bloomsbury.

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    An up-to-date edition and commentary, which includes several other texts that are relevant for the understanding of the work, plus a number of appendixes, which furthers our understanding of ancient notions about sex and gender, botany, measurements, medicine, and science.

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  • Ovid, and Publius Ovidius Naso. 1995. I cosmetici delle donne (medicamina faciei femineae). Edited by Gianpiero Rosati. Venice: Marsilio Editore.

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    Handy and comprehensive edition of Ovid’s manual on cosmetics for female beauty, with translation into Italian and an ample and profound introduction and enlightening notes.

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Scholarship

Rimell 2006 contributes to the scholarship of the Medicamina, as it interprets what is fundamentally at stake in the work, which is contextualized within the didactic genre by Heldmann 1981 and Augustan ideology by Cioccoloni 2006.

  • Cioccoloni, Francesca. 2006. Per un’interpretazione dei Medicamina faciei femineae: L’ironica polemica di Ovidio rispetto al motivo propagandistico augusteo della restitutio dell’età dell’oro. Latomus 65:97–107.

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    Argues for the political aspects of the Medicamina in the face of Augustan ideology.

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  • Heldmann, K. 1981. Schönheitsplege und Charakterstärke in Ovids Liebeslehre: Zum Proömium der Medicamina faciei. Würzburger Jahrbücher für die Altertumswissenschaft 7:153–176.

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    Investigates the conspicuous connections between the Medicamina and the Ars amatoria.

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  • Rimell, Victoria. 2006. Specular logics: Medicamina. In Ovid’s lovers: Desire, difference and the poetic imagination. By Victoria Rimell, 1–41. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    Demonstrates the depths of what is seemingly a superficial topic, namely cosmetics for female beauty, in the fragment that remains of Ovid’s Medicamina.

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Ars amatoria 1–3

Considering the centrality of the Ars amatoria not only in the literary career of Ovid, not least as the alleged “cause” of Ovid’s exile, but also in the cultural history of the West (see Reception), the editions and commentaries (see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid” for further titles) and studies could have been more numerous.

Editions and Commentaries

Commentaries on the Ars amatoria contain much valuable scholarship; thus, Dimundo 2003 offers observations on literary aspects of Book 1, Janka 1997 focuses on the erotodidactic genre, and Gibson 2003 and Brunelle 2015 demonstrate the importance of female figures in the didactic project of Ovid.

  • Brunelle, Christoph, ed. 2015. Ovid: Ars amatoria Book Three. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Easily accessible and user-friendly commentary to Ovid’s third book of the Ars amatoria.

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  • Dimundo, Rosalba. 2003. Ovidio, Lezioni d’amore: Saggio di commento al I Libro dell’Ars amatoria. Bari, Italy: Edipuglia.

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    The most recent commentary to date on the first book of the Ars amatoria; offers contributions to scholarship, with a particular focus on the dynamics that arise from the generic combination of elegy and didactic.

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  • Gibson, Roy, ed. 2003. Ovid: Ars amatoria Book 3. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    The standard edition of and commentary on the third book of the Ars amatoria, which Ovid dedicates to women, unlike the first and second books, addressed to men. The volume exploits the intended readership of Ovid’s book in order to unravel fundamental aspects not only of the third book of the Ars amatoria and the whole project of Ovid’s erotodidactics, but also of Ovid and his time.

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  • Janka, Markus. 1997. Ovid: Ars amatoria, Buch 2. Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Carl Winter.

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    The only book-length commentary to date on the second book of the Ars amatoria, particularly focused on erotodidactics.

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Scholarship

Myerowitz 1985 offers valuable insights into the dynamics of the Ars amatoria and its interaction with Augustan Rome in general, while Sharrock 1994 unravels the metaliterary strategies pertaining more specifically to Book 2. For further editions and commentaries, see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.”

  • Myerowitz, Molly. 1985. Ovid’s games of love. Detroit. Wayne State Univ. Press.

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    Remains the only study to date that investigates the Ars amatoria as a whole. Offers lively and sophisticated explorations of central aspects of the work, recognizing the playful qualities of Ovid, while at the same time strongly arguing in favor of the work as a serious poetic project framed by the political context of Augustan Rome.

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  • Sharrock, Alison. 1994. Seduction and repetition in Ovid’s Ars Amatoria 2. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Seminal study of Ovidian poetics and literary technique in the second book of the Ars amatoria, with particular attention to the non-erotic, but highly metapoetic, Daedalus and Icarus episode.

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Remedia amoris

Remedia amoris is explicitly presented as the sequel of the Ars amatoria, and as such has received almost as much scholarly attention as the prequel. For editions and commentaries other than those found under the heading Collected Editions and Commentaries, see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.”

Scholarship

Conte 1989 is fundamental for the understanding of the logic of the entire poetical project of Latin love elegy as exemplified by the Remedia amoris, whose fundamental compatibility with the Ars amatoria is gauged by Fulkerson 2004, and whose profound debt to the literary history as represented by Homer is explored by Pinotti 2006. For editions and commentaries, see the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.”

Heroides

Unlike the Amores and the didactic works, which feature figures from Ovid’s contemporary Rome, including the poet himself, the Heroides 1–21 feature eighteen legendary women and three legendary men. Most of these figures are known from mythology, except Sappho, in Heroides 15, and Acontius and Cydippe, who belong to the historical legacy of the island of Ceos as told by the historiographer Xenomedes and Callimachus (cf. Aet. 75.54) in Heroides 20–21. Further editions and commentaries are found in the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid.” Most scholarship distinguishes between the so-called single Heroides 1–15, where women write to their absent men, and the double Heroides 16–21, which include three pairs of letters from men and women.

Editions and Commentaries

In addition to the editions of and commentaries on one or several individual Heroides that are listed in the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid,” Ovid and Ovidius Naso 2010 offers a thorough presentation of Heroides 10, from Ariadne to Theseus.

  • Ovid, and Publius Ovidius Naso. 2010. Heroidum Epistula X. Edited and translated with commentary by Chiara Battistella. Berlin: De Gruyter.

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    Important contribution to the scholarship on Heroides 10, from Ariadne to Theseus, which includes an introduction, edition, and translation in addition to the commentary.

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Scholarship

Jacobson 1974 investigates the single Heroides, while Barchiesi 1999 remains one of the best introductions to the double Heroides as a unified poetic project. For the historical origin of Acontius and Cydippe, the last pair of letter writers in Heroides 20–21, see Rosenmeyer 1996. A low-threshold yet sophisticated introduction to the complexity of the work is offered by Newlands 2015, while its female perspective is thoroughly explored in feminist-inspired monographs such as Spentzou 2003, Lindheim 2003, and Fulkerson 2005. Fundamental for the understanding of the literary specificities of the Heroides are Kennedy 2006, originally published in 1984, on the epistolary mode, Williams 1992 on tragic irony, and Barchiesi 1993 on the phenomenon the author terms “future reflexive.”

Chronological Order, Transmission, and Book History

The larger structures and their significance in the output of Ovid as a whole are important in order to approach the various details concerning the establishment of his texts; see Holzberg 2002 and Martelli 2013. The textual establishment of Ovid’s love poetry is challenging, in part because of difficulties concerning the chronological order of his early poetry. Ovid claims to have first recited publicly from the Amores, which in its extant form—claimed to be a second revision by the poet (cf. epigramma ipsius and Tr. 4.10.61–62)—can be dated later than all the other works in question (see Syme 1978 and Heldmann 1994). For the later date of Heroides 16–21 compared to Heroides 1–15, which Ovid composed before the extant Amores (cf. Am. 2.18) see Ceccarelli 2014 and Heyworth 2015. A further difficulty is that the manuscript transmission suffers from certain problems (see Dörrie 1960–1972, and Richmond 2002) that affect the first editions of Ovid, particularly of his love poetry, and his book history (see Luck 2002 and Possanza 2009), with reverberation into present-day scholarship.

Textual Criticism and Questions of Authenticity

Some of Ovid’s love poetry, particularly Amores 3.5 (see McKeown 2002) and a number of the single Heroides, as well as all of the double Heroides (see Ceccarelli 2014 and Heyworth 2015), have been questioned regarding their authenticity. The large body of scholarship concerning this debate, for which a number of central items are listed in the Oxford Bibliographies in Classics article “Ovid,” and the divergent views promoted therein, are well illustrated by Courtney 1965 and Courtney 1997–1998, arguing both against and for the authenticity of a number of Heroides. There are still conflicting views regarding Courtney’s conclusions, which do not necessarily represent the communis opinio of current scholarship.

Poet, Poetry, and Poetics

Ovidian poetics (see Veremans 2006) and self-fashioning (see Gildenhard and Zissos 2000) are relevant to theoretical approaches to persona theory (see Boyd 1997 and Volk 2005). The choice of genre and the literary career of Ovid are strongly connected; the choice of elegy as his main generic vehicle for his love poetry does not close the poetic project of Ovid to other influences, as it remains strikingly absorbent of previous traditions and other genres. At the same time, the Ovidian output is conspicuously interconnected through internal loci similes and marked by a signature approach to meter—metapoetically as well as in practice.

Genre and Literary Career

The persona and literary career of Ovid are strongly related to the theme of love and the genre of elegy (see Harrison 2002, Perkins 2010–2011, and Thorsen 2013), which are crucial elements in Ovid’s creation of his poetic career, with important implications for both the preceding and the following history (Barchiesi and Hardie 2010).

Greek and Roman Allusions and Intertextuality

Ovid’s output is marked by what is variously referred to as “allusion” (mainly understood as author-generated and intentional) and “intertextuality” (mainly understood as reader-generated and interpretation-based). Either way, Ovid’s love poetry displays a large quantity of loci similes (similar passages) that recall both other Ovidian works and works by other authors. Thus, the love poetry of Ovid intensely engages with the preceding literary tradition, as seen in a number of case studies, where the inspiration from epic (Fabre-Serris and Deremtz 1999), tragedy (Jolivet 2001, Casali 1998, Filippi 2015) and comedy (Barsby 1996, James 2016), including mime (see McKeown 1979), is particularly conspicuous, along with references to lyric and poetry (Davis 2005, Acosta-Hughes 2009).

Internal Allusions and Intratextuality

Ovid’s poetry is extensively self-referential and invites the reader to connect various instances of loci similes, not only within the work strictly defined as Ovid’s love poetry, but also within his entire output (see Albrecht 2000), linking especially his early works with those of exile (Huskey 2005, Simons 2013, Williams 1997).

Meter

Another feature that Ovid promotes with unmatched self-consciousness, compared to other Roman poets, is meter, especially the elegiac couplet; see Morgan 2012 and Thorsen 2013.

Female Figures, Marriage, and Law

Concerning the conspicuous presence of female figures in Ovid’s love poetry, Heath 2013 is essential for understanding Corinna of Tanagra, both as a model of the beloved in the Amores and as Ovid’s poet-colleague (and hence a literary model). See, furthermore, Galand-Hallyn 1991, which also points to Sappho as Ovid’s literary model in the Heroides. Female figures also have a very important figurative significance in Ovidian poetry, as demonstrated by Keith 1994. Ovid’s poetry dramatizes the sociocultural condition of real women in Augustan Rome, which may be seen in cases of violence against women (see Greene 1998–1999), sex as a commodity in the business of love (James 2003), and the constraints of socially imposed gender roles in, for example, marriage (Gibson 1998, Ziogas 2014). Augustan legislation (Kenney 1969, Davis 1993, Perkins 2015) and unwanted pregnancies (see Abortion) affected women in Ovid’s contemporary Rome, with significant, sometimes unique reverberations in his love poetry.

Abortion

Ovid alone mentions abortion in ancient verse; the uniqueness and significance of this is explored in Gamel 1989, Due 1980, and Watts 1973.

Augustan Culture and Ideology

Boyle 2003 outlines how Ovid’s texts interact with the monumental cityscape of his contemporary Rome, with plenty of ideological implications. A striking, yet often neglected, feature of Augustan culture was that it was replete with texts in the form of inscriptions (Nelis-Clément and Nelis 2013). The importance of this fact can hardly be underestimated when considering the significance of being a producer of texts about Rome in the age of Augustus, which is what Ovid is and does (Ramsby 2007). Labate 1984, Casali 2006, and Sharrock 2006 should be read together regarding Ovid’s potential adherence or opposition to the Augustan regime, with a particular focus on Ars amatoria. Davis 2006 offers a book-length exploration of the relationship between poetry and Augustan propaganda within the framework of the Amores, Ars amatoria, Remedia amoris, and the Heroides.

  • Boyle, A. J. 2003. Ovid and the monuments: A Poet’s Rome. Victoria, Australia: Aureal.

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    Provides a full survey of the monuments that are mentioned in Ovid’s output, with helpful commentaries, photos of existing remains of the monuments, and historical maps.

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  • Casali, Sergio. 2006. The art of making oneself hated: Rethinking (anti-)Augustanism in Ovid’s Ars amatoria. In The art of love: Bimillennial essays on Ovid’s Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris. Edited by Roy K. Gibson, Steven Green, and Alison Sharrock, 216–234. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Illuminates some of the most crucial passages in the Ars amatoria and the Remedia amoris concerning Ovid’s potentially subversive project in the face of Augustan ideology.

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  • Davis, Peter J. 2006. Ovid and Augustus: A political reading of Ovid’s erotic poems. London: Duckworth.

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    Shows how all of Ovid’s early works, including the single Heroides, can be understood as relating in terms of opposition to the propaganda of Augustus and his regime.

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  • Labate, Mario. 1984. L’arte di farsi amare: Modelli culturali e progetto didascalico nell’elegia ovidiana. Pisa, Italy: Giardini.

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    Extensive investigation into the amorous works of Ovid—the Amores included, but with the main focus on the Ars amatoria—as an integrated part of the social fabric of Augustan Rome.

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  • Nelis-Clément, Jocelyn, and Damien Nelis. 2013. Furor epigrahicus: Augustus, the poets, and the inscriptions. In Inscriptions and their uses and Greek and Latin literature. Edited by Peter Liddel and Polly Low, 317–347. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665747.003.0015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Documents the overwhelming presence of inscriptions by Augustus during his reign, and establishes how literary texts play on and respond to the epigraphic output of Augustus as auctor, with several examples from Ovid, including the Ars amatoria.

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  • Ramsby, Teresa. 2007. Textual permanence: Roman elegists and the epigraphic tradition. London: Duckworth.

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    Explores inscription as a literary phenomenon in Augustan poetry, with ample focus on Ovid’s love poetry, especially in chapters 4, 5, and 6.

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  • Sharrock, Alison. 2006. Ovid and the politics of reading. In Oxford readings in classical studies: Ovid. Edited by Peter E. Knox, 238–264. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Article originally published in 1994 that efficiently debunks reductionist readings that may simplify the relationship between Ovid’s Ars amatoria and Augustan political ideology.

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Reception

Few poets can match Ovid’s influence on the culture of the West (see Miller and Newlands 2014), which in the case of his love poetry manifests itself in literary (Michalopoulos 2003, cited under Heroides Receptions c. 50–1600; Lev Kenaan 2005, under Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris Receptions c. 1100–1700), educational and academic (Hexter 1986, under Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris Receptions c. 1100–1700; Gatti 2014, under Heroides Receptions c. 50–1600), musical (Solomon 2014), and visual culture (Swetnam-Burland 2015, under Heroides Receptions c. 50–1600; Barolsky 2014), and spans from antiquity into our contemporary time (Ziolkowski 2005). The very notion of the poet’s life has even proved formative in certain phases of Western culture (Taylor 2017). In order to highlight the diversity in the concrete reception of Ovid’s love poetry, there are (non-exhaustive) subsections focused on his main works centering on love (Amores, Ars amatoria, Remedia amoris, Heroides) below.

  • Barolsky, Paul. 2014. Ovid and the metamorphoses of modern art from Botticelli to Picasso. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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    Richly illustrated volume on the many works of art that have been inspired by Ovid’s poetry, especially that centered on the theme of love, during centuries of Western art history.

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  • Miller, John, and Carole Newlands, eds. 2014. A handbook to the reception of Ovid. Malden, MA, and Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

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    Comprehensive companion that covers a wide time span, many languages, and several media, including visual art, music, and cinema. Observations on Ovid’s love poetry are found throughout, although the Metamorphoses and the exile poetry are more center stage in this volume.

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  • Solomon, Jon. 2014. The influence of Ovid in opera. In A handbook to the reception of Ovid. Edited by John Miller and Carole Newlands, 371–385. Malden, MA, and Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

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    Outlines Ovid’s influence in opera through time, showing how his stories of love from the Ars amatoria, the Heroides (e.g., “the lament of Ariadne”) and Metamorphoses have played important roles not only in the reception history of the classics, but also in the history of the opera.

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  • Taylor, Helen. 2017. The lives of Ovid in seventeenth-century French culture. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198796770.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Pioneering work that shows how the very idea of Ovid’s life became a productive force in a variety of works and genres in French culture during the reign of Louis XIV.

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  • Ziolkowski, Theodore. 2005. Ovid and the Moderns. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    Covers the many and various receptions of Ovid between 1912 and 2002, spanning many languages and media, such as visual art, music, and literature.

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Amores Receptions c. 500–1600

In terms of Ovid’s love poetry, the influence can be seen in the concrete case of the Amores (see Stapleton 1996, Kretschmer 2016, James 2006) through time.

Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris Receptions c. 1100–1700

In terms of Ovid’s love poetry, the influence in later times can also be seen in the concrete case of the Ars amatoria and the Remedia amoris (see Lev Kenaan 2005, Hexter 1986, Desmond 2006, and Loubère 2007) through time.

  • Desmond, Marilynn. 2006. Ovid’s art and the wife of Bath: The ethics of erotic violence. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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    Focuses on the reception of Ovid’s Ars amatoria and argues that the work’s concept of irony and violence influence important literature on love, gender, and sexuality in Continental Europe (e.g., by Héloïse and Abelard, Christine de Pizan) and on the British Isles (e.g., by Chaucer) during the Middle Ages.

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  • Hexter, Ralph J. 1986. Ovid and medieval schooling: Studies in medieval school commentaries on Ovid’s Ars amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto, and Epistulae heroidum. Munich: Arbeo-Gesellschaft.

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    Rich study of the phenomenon of school commentaries on the works of Ovid, mostly his love poetry, in the Middle Ages.

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  • Lev Kenaan, Vered. 2005. The contribution of Ars and Remedia to the development of autobiographical fiction. Classica et Mediaevalia 56:167–184.

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    Argues that a specific self-awareness is developed in Ovid’s Ars amatoria and Remedia amoris that becomes fundamental to the later, secular development of autobiographical writings, as seen in the case of Andreas Capellanus and Boccaccio.

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  • Loubère, Stéphanie. 2007. L’art d’aimer au siècle des Lumières. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation.

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    This study demonstrates the importance of Ovid’s Ars amatoria as a model for theorizing about human emotions and classifying desire in the French 18th century, linking Ovid to the famous concept of libertinage.

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Heroides Receptions c. 50–1600

In terms of Ovid’s love poetry, the influence in later times can furthermore be seen in the concrete case of the Heroides (see Swetnam-Burland 2015, Gatti 2014, Michalopoulos 2003, and Brownlee 2014).

  • Brownlee, Marina S. 2014. The severed word: Ovid’s Heroides and the novela sentimental. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    Originally published in 1990, this study compellingly argues that Ovid’s Heroides functions as a precursor for the novel during the early modern period, a formative phase of this increasingly important literary genre, with a particularly enriching impact on the Spanish novela sentimental (sentimental romance).

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  • Gatti, Pierluigi Leone. 2014. Ovid in Antike und Mittelalter: Geschichte der philologischen Rezeption. Stuttgart, Germany: Steiner.

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    Outlines the early reception of Ovid in terms of philological and educational texts inspired by the Ovidian corpus, with some detours into his love poetry, such as the Heroides.

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  • Michalopoulos, Andreas N. 2003. Ovid in Greek: Maximus Planudes’ translation of the double Heroides. Classica et Mediaevalia 54:359–374.

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    Investigates the translational technique of the Byzantine scholar Planudes’s rendition of the Heroides into Greek, with particular focus on the features that differ conspicuously from Ovid’s Latin.

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  • Swetnam-Burland, Molly. 2015. Encountering Ovid’s Phaedra in House V.2.10–11, Pompeii. American Journal of Archaeology 119:217–232.

    DOI: 10.3764/aja.119.2.0217Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Ovid’s Heroides, in which the heroine Phaedra features, forms part of the cultural background that manifests itself on the walls of Pompeii.

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