Sunday, February 13, 2011

Inspiration from Ovid

Since first picking up his writings while in college, I have had an on going love affair with Ovid. He is considered a master of Latin Poetry and ranks with Virgil and Horace by many scholars. His works deal with myth, love, sex, and adultery. His mythological poems are from famous women, like Helen of Troy, written to their lovers who are absent.

The Amores makes up a set of famous love poems mostly about his love affair with an unknown woman named Corinna who was married to another man. They touch on so many issues of today that it is strange to think that they were written over 2,000 years ago. There is adultery, both as she cheats on her husband and later when Ovid cheats on her. He gives advice on women finding older men, he speaks against abortion, and complains that his lover wants material possessions instead of his poems. He mocks her when she dyes her hair another color and argues with her when she wants to leave on vacation. At the end he decides not to love her and regrets all of the poems that he has written about her.

'The Art of Love' is even better as Ovid teaches men how to seduce women only to turn around and instruct women on how to seduce men. He ends the book by hoping that women will follow his advice and spread his fame by saying that Ovid was their teacher.

To give you a taste of what steamy material you can find in a 2,000 year old text here is a few lines from Amores where he tells Corinna how they can flirt together in front of her husband.

Words that are spoken without voice, I shall speak with my eyebrows;
You will understand the words traced by my fingers, words written in wine.
When the wantonness of our love comes into your mind,
With tender thumb touch your blushing cheeks
If you shall complain about me in the silence of your mind,
Your soft hand should hang from the end of you ear;
My dear light, when I do or say things which please you,
Turn your ring round and round your fingers;

Like I said I LOVE OVID and would like to spread his fame by saying, he is my teacher.


  1. To me, he's a four-letter word in a crossword puzzle for "Roman poet." That's for expanding my horizon.

  2. Steve-Yes I will admit that naughty Roman poetry isn't for everyone! There were only a few in my class that got as excited as I did.