Ovid's Erotic Poems
"Amores" and "Ars Amatoria"University of Pennsylvania Press
232 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in
- Published: October 2014
- Published: September 2014
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The most sophisticated and daring poetic ironist of the early Roman Empire, Publius Ovidius Naso, is perhaps best known for his oft-imitated Metamorphoses. But the Roman poet also wrote lively and lewd verse on the subjects of love, sex, marriage, and adultery—a playful parody of the earnest erotic poetry traditions established by his literary ancestors. The Amores, Ovid's first completed book of poetry, explores the conventional mode of erotic elegy with some subversive and silly twists: the poetic narrator sets up a lyrical altar to an unattainable woman only to knock it down by poking fun at her imperfections. Ars Amatoria takes the form of didactic verse in which a purportedly mature and experienced narrator instructs men and women alike on how to best play their hands at the long con of love.
Ovid's Erotic Poems offers a modern English translation of the Amores and Ars Amatoria that retains the irreverent wit and verve of the original. Award-winning poet Len Krisak captures the music of Ovid's richly textured Latin meters through rhyming couplets that render the verse as playful and agile as it was meant to be. Sophisticated, satirical, and wildly self-referential, Ovid's Erotic Poems is not just a wickedly funny send-up of romantic and sexual mores but also a sharp critique of literary technique and poetic convention.
"Krisak has found a voice that accurately reflects that of his author, revealing the elegance of Ovid's skill in writing verses and the liveliness of his sensibility and subversive wittiness."—Charles Martin
"Krisak's thinking, his thoughtfulness, deeply motivates the translation, giving the resultant English an energy that readers of Latin rightly feel is present in Ovid's originals. In particular I would say that Krisak has managed to capture what has been called Ovid's "thoughtful lightness."—Benjamin Eldon Stevens, Bryn Mawr Classical Review