militat omnis amans (Ovid, Amores 1.9.1)
In the waning decades of the first century BCE, Roman Elegists such as Catullus, Gallus, Propertius, and Tibullus crafted a mode of poetry and an image of the Roman lover that, at least on the surface, seems decidedly out of place beside the rugged, resourceful conquerers of Roman lore. No Scipio or Caesar, these elegiac lovers rejected pursuit of political and military glory, voluntarily enslaving themselves to a domina, a mercurial and often cruel mistress, who becomes for the lover a source of alternating triumph and despair.
In the process they created and refined a grammar of love independent of the socially constructed power dynamics that defined sexual behavior in antiquity, one which served as the intellectual basis of the medieval phenomenon of Courtly Love and (albeit less explicitly) the subjective eroticism of Romanticism and contemporary culture.
In this course we will focus on the culminating and most influential works of this tradition—Ovid’s Amores and Ars Amatoria. The Amores presents all the features of the Elegiac genre: the pathetic lover, the (un)helpful servant, erotic rivals, sexual success, and betrayal. The Ars Amatoria is styled as a verse handbook to the elegiac lover, teaching first men, and then women, how to catch and keep the perfect (and in some cases the adequate) lover.
Ovid’s love poetry, however, contains more than just a guide to and an account of love, and we will explore its complex interaction with questions of genre, poetics, subjectivity, fiction, and truth. In addition to these central Latin texts, we will read selections from other Roman elegists and Ovid’s Remedia Amoris, or cure for love, in English, as well as important scholarly literature to assist our understanding and discussion.
Prerequisites: Students should have completed LATN201 or two courses at the 100-level or equivalent. In exceptional cases, first year students who have completed LATN101 may take this course with permission of instructor.
Conclave: Sharpless 202
Horarium: T/Th 2:30-4
Magister: Bret Mulligan
Studiolum: Hall Building 109
Horae in Studiolo: MW 1-3