Ovid

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Sara Mack; Edited by John Herington

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Of all the poets of ancient Rome Ovid had perhaps the most influence on the art and literature of Medieval and Renaissance Europe.  Even today he is probably the most accessible of all classical poets to the non-specialist, both in his subject matter and in his style.  Ovid is no less fascinated than we are by the human psyche and by the ways men and women relate to each other, and many of his views on these questions seem centuries ahead of his time.

 

Ovid’s interest in narrative technique is so much like ours that modern critical terms such as “reader-response” could have been coined for his experiments with story telling.  In the creation of different personae and points of view his ingenuity is endless.  For the Amores he invented a posing poet-lover; for the Art of Love, his narrator is a cynical professor of seduction who is convinced, quite wrongly, that he has love down to a science.  In the Heroides, a series of verse-letters from the famous women of legend to their lovers, he brilliantly recreated great moments of heroic mythology from the feminine point of view.  The longest and most enchanting of his works, the Metamorphoses, an epic-length poem on the infinite changes of mythology and history, afforded him the richest opportunities of all to experiment with narrative techniques. 

 

In this book Sara Mack introduces Ovid to the general reader.  After considering Ovid’s modernity, Mack surveys his poetry chronologically.  Next she examines his most influential poems: the Amores, Heroides, Art of Love, and Metamorphoses.  Finally she explores Ovidian wit, concluding with a look at Ovid’s influence on the arts. 

"She displays an outstanding ability to present clearly and simply the mainstream scholarly views on her author; her erudition is unobtrusive, she writes authoritatively yet not dogmatically; her style is attractive and readable. Mack’s writing is infused with an infectious enthusiasm for Ovid’s poetry."—Pat Watson, Journal of Roman Studies

"(Mack) writes for novice and specialist in this well-organized, coherent survey of a timeless literature whose primary theme is all kinds of love. . . . How fortunate for both students and Ovid scholars that Hermes Books encouraged this volume."—Norma Goldman, Classical World

"This is, in my opinion, the best general book on Ovid. The content is based on sound scholarship. The style is clear, delightful, and perfectly paced. It would be an excellent introduction to Rome’s great poet . . . and a pleasant companion to advanced study as well."—Key Reporter

"Mack’s impressive credentials qualify her to write about Ovid for specialists, yet she has written an elegant introduction to the poet that will persuade the general, even Latinless, reader to explore Ovid further. . . . Mack’s work is intelligent, often original, and always firmly grounded in her formidable background in Ovidian studies and Latin poetry."—Choice

"Ms. Mack ably traces the development of Ovid’s work and its enormous influence on later literature, sampling everything from his early love poems through the elegiac complaints he wrote in exile."—Roger Kimball, Wall Street Journal

"Sara Mack, in a wonderfully readable account, . . . encourages readers to become familiar with the voice of one of the most compelling poets in human history. . . . A masterful dissection of his poetry."—Maurice B. Cloud, Bloomsbury Review
ISBN: 9780300042955
Publication Date: September 10, 1988
192 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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