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Frejus, in the Riviera), was, like Horace, of low birth,
but received, like him, an education superior to his
station. He studied under one of the best teachers of
the age, and had Virgil for one of his schoolfellows.
After the murder of Julius Caesar, he joined the party
of Octavianus (better known by his later title of
Augustus), and was appointed by him one of the three
commissioners charged with the distribution of the
confiscated lands of the North Italian colonies among
the discharged veterans. In this capacity he had the
opportunity of serving his old friend. ^Mantua, though

* Graceful and elegant as it is, it cannot be classed with the
finest works of its kind. The " Lycidas " of Milton, the " Ad-
onais " of Shelley, and Sir Matthew Arnold's " Thyrsis," are all
incomparably superior to it. It is entirely a work of art.
There is little or nothing of personal feeling in it.



16 VI D.

guiltless of any offence against the victorious party,
was included in . the confiscation ; and the estate of
Virgil, which was situated in one of the neighbouring
villages, was seized. Gallus exerted himself to get it
restored to its owner. The poet repaid him by most
graceful praise of the poetical powers which Gallus
probably valued more than his reputation as a soldier.
In one of his pastorals he makes the god' SUenus



" How Gallus, wandering by Permessian streams,
Some Muse conducted to th' Aonian hills,
And how the tuneful choir of Phoebus rose
To greet tlieir mortal guest, while Linus spake,
Old Linus, shepherd of the deathless song.
His hair with flowers and bitter parsley crowned —
' Take thou these pipes, the Muses' gift to thee,
As erst their gift to Ascra's aged bard ;
With them he knew to draw from down the cliff
The sturdy mountain-ash trees. Sing on these
How Grynia's grove was planted, till there stand
No forest dearer to Apollo's heart.' "

Another of the pastorals, the tenth and last, has the
name of " Gallus " for its title, and celebrates in
exquisite verse the unhappy passion of the soldier-
poet for the faithless Lycoris. It has been thought,
on the strength of a somewhat obscure passage in
Ovid's elegy on the death of Tibullus, that Gallus
behaved in a less friendly manner to that poet.
The departed bard, we are told, would meet his
fellow-singers Catullus and Calvus in the Elysian
fields —



AUGUSTAN AGE OF LOVE-POETRY. 17

" And thou too, Gallus, if they did thee wrong,
Who spake of friendship shamed, wilt join the throng."

Tibullus certainly lost, and apparently failed to re-
cover, a great part of his property ; and it has been
Conjectured that the influence of GaUus was used to
obstruct restitution. Perhaps a more plausible ex-
planation may be found in the circumstances that
brought his career to an end. He had rendered great
services in that final struggle with Mark Antony
which put the undivided empire into the hands of
Augustus, and was appointed in reward to the gov-
ernment of Egypt, then for the first time a Eoman
province. This elevation turned, or was said to
have turned, his head. Accused of having used in-
sulting words about Augustus, he was recalled. Other
charges were brought against him, and were investi-
gated by the senate, with the result that his property
was confiscated, and that he was sent into exile.
Unable to bear the disgrace, he fell upon his sword.
He was in his fortieth j'ear. We can judge of his
poetical merit only by the statements of his contem-
poraries ; but if these are to be trusted, they were of
the very highest order.* His amatory poems consisted
of four books of elegies addressed to Lycoris.

" Gallus to east and west is known, and fame
With Gallus joins his own Lycoris' name."

One reflection strikes us forcibly as we compare

* Quintilian, however, says of his poetry that it was ' ' some-
what harsh."

A.C.S.S., vol. ii. ■ B



18 VI D.

Ovid with his predecessors and contemporaries — a re-
flection which, whatever the qualities in which they
may he allowed to have excelled him, explains and
justifies the higher rank which he has received in the
judgment of posterity. He was cast, so to speak, in
a larger mould, and made of stronger stuff. ITothing
is more significant of this than the very superiority of
his physical constitution. They almost without ex-
ception (we are not speaking now of Horace and Virgil)
passed away in the very prime of their youth. Ca-
tullus died, when we do not know, hut certainly hefore
the age which opened to a Eoman citizen the highest
offices of state. He comes to meet Tibullus in the
Elysian fields, " his youthful brows Avith ivy crowned."
Calvus, his closest friend, died at thirty-six ; Gallus,
Tibullus, Propertius, were not older when they passed
away. The fiery passion which shines through theu' verse,
and which often gives it a more genuine ring than we
find in Ovid's smoother song, consumed them. Ovid
was more master of himself. Nor was his intellectual
life limited to the expression of passion. His mind
was braced by the severe studies that produced the
* Transmutations ' and the ' Eoman Calendar.' With
this stronger, more practical, more varied intellect
went along the more enduring physical fi-ame. He
had nearly reached his sixtieth year before he suc-
cumbed to the miseries and privations of a protracted
exile. And sixty years of Eoman life correspond, it
must be remembered, to at least seventy among those
who, like ourselves, date the beginning of manhood
not from sixteen, but only nominally even from



AUGUSTAN AGE OF LOVE-POETB.Y. 19

twenty-one. "VVe may perhaps find a parallel, at
least partially appropriate, in the contrast between
Shakespeare and his more sturdy and healthful soul
and frame, and his short-lived predecessors in the
dramatic art, Marlowe and Greene, men of genius both,
but consumed, as it were, by the fii'e with which he
was inspired.



CHAPTER II.



THE LOVE-POEMS.



Under this title are included four productions wLicli
— to speak of those works alone which have come down
to us — formed the literary occupation of Ovid from
his twentieth to his forty-second year. These four are
* The Epistles of the Heroines,' ' The Loves,' ' The Art
of Love,' and ' Remedies for Love.' It is in the second
of these, doubtless, that we have the earliest of the
poet's productions that survive. He tells us that he
recited his juvenile poems to a public audience, for
the first time, when his beard had been twice or thrice
shaved. Shaving the beard seems to have been a fixed
epoch in a young Roman's life, occurring somewhere
about his twenty-first or twenty-second year. He also
tells us that of these poems Corinna had been the in-
spiring subject, and Corinna, we know, is celebrated in
'The Loves.' As this book, however, in the form in
which Ave now have it, is a second edition, and as it
makes express mention of 'The Epistles of the Heroines'
as a work already published, it will be convenient to
speak first of the latter poem. It consists of twenty-



THE LOVE-POEMS. 21

one* letters, supposed to have been written by women
famous in legend, to absent husbands or lovers. Ovid
claims the idea as original, and we must therefore sup-
pose that the one example of the kind which we find
in Propertius was imitated from him — a supposition
which gives as a probable date for the publication of the
Letters, the poet's twenty-fifth year (b.c. 18). Pene-
lope, the faithful wife, whom the twenty years' absence
of her lord has not been able to estrange, writes to the
wandering Ulysses ; Phyllis, daughter of the Thracian
king Sithon, complains of the long delay of her Athe-
nian lover, Demophoon, in the land whither he had
gone to prepare, as he said, for their marriage ; the de-
serted Ariadne sends her reproaches after Theseus ;
Medea, with mingled threats and entreaties, seeks to
turn Jason from the new marriage which he is contem-
plating ; and Dido,t a figure which Ovid has borrowed
from the beautiful episode of the '^neid,' alternately
appeals to the pity and denounces the perfidy of her
Trojan lover. These are some of the subjects which the
poet has chosen. The idea of the book, it must be con-
fessed, is not a peculiarly happy one. Sometimes it
has an almost ludicrous air. There is an absurdity, as
Bayle suggests, in the notion of the post reaching to

* The authenticit;,'' of some of this number is doubted, or,
we might say, more than doubted. But the question is beside,
our present purpose.

t It may be as well to remind the reader that though the
legend of Dido is much older than the '^neid,' the introduction
of iEneas into it is Virgil's own idea — a gross anachronism, by
the way, with which, however, no reader of the fourth book
of the ' iEneid ' will reproach him.



22 VID.

I^axos, the desolate island from whose shore Ariadne
has seen the departing sails of the treacherous Theseus.
JS'or is there even an attempt at giving any colouring
appropriate to the time and place to -which the several
letters are supposed to belong. Penelope, Dido, Ari-
adne are all alike refined and virell-educated jiersons,
just like the great Roman ladies whom the poet used
to meet in daily life. This artificial writing, abso-
lutely without all that is called realism, was character-
istic of Ovid's age, and we cannot make it a special
charge against him. But it has certainly a wearying
effect, which is increased by the sameness and mono-
tonj'' of the subject-matter of the Epistles. The names
are different, the circumstances are changed according
as the several stories demand, but the theme is ever the
same — love, now angry and fidl of reproaches, now ten-
der and condescending to entreaty. Nor is that love
the " maiden passion " which has supplied in mod-
ern times the theme of poems and romances without
nimiber. It is the fierce emotion, guilty or wrathful,
though sometimes, it must be allowed, melting into
genuine pathos and tenderness, of betrayed maidens
and outraged wives. But, on the other hand, though
the theme is the same, the variety of expression is end-
less. The skill with which Ovid continues, again and
again, to say the same thing without repeating him-
self, is astonishing. In this respect no poet has ever
shown himself more thoroughly a master of his art.
Feeling, too, real though not elevated, often makes it-
self felt in the midst of the artificial sentiment; if the
style is disfigured with conceits, it is always exquisitely



THE LOVE-POEMS. 23

polished ; tlie language is universally easy and trans-
parent, and the verse an unbroken flow of exquisite
melody.

Of all the Epistles, the one which for purity and ten-
derness most commends itself to our taste, is that ad-
dressed by the Thessalian princess Laodamia to her
husband Protesilaus. He had joined the expedition
of the Greeks against Troy, and was the destined
victim of the prophecy which foretold the death of the
Greek chieftain who should be the first to leap from
the ships on to the Trojan shore. Eeaders of Words-
worth will remember the beautiful poem in which he
has treated that part of the legend which relates how
Jove granted to the prayers of the widowed queen
that her hero should for a brief space of time revisit
the earth. Laodamia had heard that her husband and
his companions were detained at Aulis by contrary
winds. ' Why had not the Avinds been contrary when
he left his home ? They had been too favourable —
favourable for the sailor, not for the lover. As long
as she could see, she had watched the departing saUs.
When they vanished, she had seemed to pass from life,
and could wish that she never had been recalled — for
her, hfe was sorrow. How could she wear her royal
robes while her husband was enduring the toU and
AATctchedness of war ? Accursed beauty of Paris that
had wrought such woe ! Accursed vengeance of Mene-
laus that would be fatal to so many ! How foolish the
enterj)rise of the Greeks ! Surely the man who had
dared to carry off the daughter of Tyndarus would be
able to keep her. And there was some dreadful



24 VI D.

Hector of whom she had heard; let Protesilaus be-
ware of him. Let him always fight as one who re-
membered that there was a wife waiting for him at
home. It was Menelaus who had been wronged ; let
it be Menelaus who should exact vengeance. A rumour
had readied her that the first chief to touch Trojan
son must fall. Let Protesilaus be careful not to be
he. Eather let his be the last of the thousand ships
— the last in going, but the first to return. Now she
mourned for him night and day. The dreams in
which she hoped to meet her husband did but bring
back his pale image. This made her pray to the gods
and burn incense on every altar in Thessaly. When
would he return and tell the tale of his deeds i But
the hope suggested the dreadful thought of Troy and
the dangers of the sea. The sea, indeed, seemed to
forbid their journey. If it was so, what madness to
go ! The delay was not an accident ; it was an inti-
mation from heaven. Let them return while they
could. But no ! She will recall the wish. She will
pray for favourable winds. If only it was not so far
away ! ' And then she contrasts the sorrows of her own
loneliness with what she cannot but think the happier
lot of those who were shut up in the walls of Troy : —

" Ah ! Trojan women (happier far than we),
Fain in your lot would I partaker be !
If ye must mourn o'er some dead hero's bier,
And all the dangers of the war are near,
With you at least the fair and youthful bride
May arm her husband, in becoming pride ;
Lift the fierce hehiiet to his gallant brow.
And, with a tremblin;,' hand, his sword bestow ;



THE LOVE-POEMS. 25

With fingers all unused the weapon brace,
And gaze with fondest love upon his face !
How sweet to both this office she will make —
How many a kiss receive — how many take !
When all equipped she leads him from the door,
Her fond commands how oft repeating o'er : —
* Return victorious, and thiue arms enshrine —
Return, beloved, to these arms of mine ! '
Xor shall these fond commands be all in vain,
Her hero-husband will return again.
Amid the battle's din and clashing swords
He still. wiU. listen to her parting words ;
And, if more prudent, still, ah ! not less brave,
One thought for her and for his home will save."

The letter of Sappho, the famous poetess of Lesbos,
to Phaon, a beautiful youth who had betrayed her love,
is founded on a less pleasing story — a story, too, wtich
has no foundation either in the remains — miserably
scanty, alas ! but full of beauty — of the great singer,
or in any authentic records of her life. It might well
have been passed over had it not been illustrated by
the genius of Pope. Pope never attempted the part
of a faithful translator ; but his verse has a freedom
and a glow which leave the faithful translator in
despair. And his polished antithetical style is as
suitable, it should be said, to the artificial and rhetori-
cal verse of Ovid, as it is incongruous with the simple
grandeur of Homer. It is thus that he renders the
passage in which Sappho announces her intention to
try the famous remedy for hopeless love, the leap from
the Leucadian rock : —

" A spring there is, where silver waters show,
Clear as a. glass, the shining sands below ;



26 viD.

A flowery lotus spreads its arms above,
Shades all the banks, and seems itself a grove :
Eternal greens the mossy margin grace.
Watched by the sylvan genius of the place.
Here as I lay, and swelled with tears the flood,
Before my sight a watery virgin stood :
She stood and cried, ' Oh, you that love in vain.
Fly hence, and seek the fair Leucadian main !
There stands a rock, fium whose impending steep
Apollo's fane surveys the rolling deep ;
There injured lovers, leaping from above,
Their flames extinguish and forget to love.
Deucalion once with hopeless fury burned,
In vain he loved, relentless Pj'rrha scorned :
But when from hence he plunged into the main,
Deucalion scorned and Pyrrha loved in vain.
Hence, Sappho, haste ! from high Leucadia throw
Thy wretched M-eight, nor dread the deeps below.'
She spoke, and vanished with the voice — I rise,
And sUent tears fall trickling from my eyes.
I go, ye nymphs, those rocks and seas to prove :
And much I fear ; but ah ! how much I love !
I go, ye nymphs, where furious love inspires ;
Let female fears submit to female fires.
To rocks and seas I fly from Phaon's hate,
And hope from seas and rocks a milder fate.
Ye gentle gales, below my body blow.
And softly lay me on the waves below !
And then, kmd Love, my sinking limbs sustain.
Spread thy soft -wings, and waft me o'er the main.
Nor let a lover's death the guiltless flood profane !
On Phoebus' shrine my harp I'll then bestow.
And this inscription shall be placed below —
' Here she who sung to him that did inspire,
Sapplio to Phoebus consecrates her Ijrre ;
"NMiat suits witli Sappho, Phoebus, suits with thee—
The gift, the giver, and the god agree.' "



THE LOVE-POEMS. 27

"We have * The Loves,' as has been said, in a second
edition. " Five books," says the poet in his prefatory-
quatrain, " have been reduced to three." " Though you
find no pleasure in reading us," the volumes are made
to say to the reader, " -we shall at least, when thus
diminished by two, vex you less." A question imme-
diately presents itself, "Who was the Corinna whom he
celebrates in these poems 1 It has often been argued,
and that by critics of no small authority, that she was
no less famous a personage than Julia, daughter of the
Emperor Augustus by his first wife Scribonia. This
indeed is expressly stated as a fact by Sidonius Apol-
linaris, a poet of the fifth century, and a somewhat
distinguished personage, first as a politician, and after-
wards as the bishop of Clermont in Auvergne. Of
Julia the briefest account will be the best. She was
wife successively of Marcus Marcellus, nephew to
Augustus j of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa ; and of
Tiberius, afterwards emperor. This last union was
most unhappy. Tiberius had been compelled to
divorce a wife whom he dearly loved, and he found
himself bound to a woman whose profligacy was con-
spicuous even in a profligate age. After a short union
he retired into a voluntary exile ; and Augustus then
became aware of what all Eome had long known, that
his daughter was an abandoned woman. He banished
her from Italy, and kept her in a rigorous imprison-
ment, which was never relaxed till her death. There
is nothing, therefore, in the character of Julia that is
inconsistent with her being the Corinna of Ovid's
poems. "We can even find some confirmation of the



28 viD.

theory. Corinna, it is evident, did not belong to that
class of freed-women which included the Delia of
Tibullus and the Cynthia of Propertius. Sometimes
"\ve are led to believe that she was a lady of high
social position. Her apartments were guarded by a
eunuch — not a common circumstance in Eome, and
obviously the mark of a wealthy household. That
she was married the poet expressly states. And a
curious coincidence has been pointed out which,
though it does not go very far, may be allowed to
make for the identification with Julia. This princess
had lost much of her hair through the unsparing use
of dyes.* And we find Ovid remonstrating with
Corinna on her foUy in producing in the same way
the same disfigurement : —

" No weeds destroyed them with their fatal juice,
Nor. canst thou witches' magic charms accuse,
Nor rival's love, nor dire enchantments blame,
Nor em'y's blasting tongue, nor fever's flame ;
The mischief by thy own fair hands was wrought.
Nor dost thou suffer for another's fault.
How oft I bade thee, but in vain, beware
The venomed essence that destroyed thy hair !
Now with new arts thou shalt thy friends amuse,
And curls, of German captives borrowed, use.
Drusus to Eome their vanquished nation sends,
And the fair slave to thee her tresses lends." — D.

But there is a good deal to be said on the other side.

* She sought, it would seem, to change the dark tresses
which nature had given her into the blond locks which
southern nations so admire, injured them in the effort, and
had to replace them by purchase. The vagaries of fashion
continually repeat themselves.



THE LOVE-POEMS. 29

The testimony of Sidonius Apollinaris, after an interval
of nearly five centuries, is worth very little. "We
have no hint of any contemporary authorities on which
he founded it ; and tradition, when ft has to pass through
so many generations — generations, too, that suffered so
much disturbance and change — stands for next to no-
thing. If some passages, again, favour the notion that
Corinna was Julia, there are others which tell against it.
Ovid could never have ventured to use — would not even
have dreamt of expressing in words — to Agrippa or
Tiberius, the insolent threats which he vents against the
husband of Corinna. ISTor is it possible to imagine that
Julia, however profligate, could ever have been even
tempted to the avarice Avith which Ovid reproaches his
mistress, when he remonstrates against the preference
that she had shown for some wealthy soldier just re-
turned from the wars. Then, again, the poems were
read in public ; — an absolutely impossible audacity, if
there had been the faintest suspicion that they referred
to so exalted a personage as the emperor's daughter.
The writer of the verse himself tells us that it was not
known who was the theme of his song, and he speaks
of some woman who was going about boasting that
she was Ovid's Corinna.

Of the subject-matter of ' The Loves ' there is little to
be said. The passion which inspires the verse is coarser
and more brutal than that of his rival poets, even when
this shows itself in its worst phases. It has nothing
of the fervour of Propertius, the tenderness of Tibullus.
It does not spring from any depth of feeling It is real,
but its reality is of the basest, most literal sort. That



30 OVID.

he describes an actual amour is only too manifest, but
that this was in any true sense of the words " an
affair of the heart " may well be doubted. But then,
again, he shows an incomparable skill in expression ;
he invests even the lowest things with a certain grace.
His wit and fancy " sj)arkle on the stye." If he lets
us get away for a moment from the mire — if, with the
delicate fancy that never fails him, he tells us some
legend that " boys and virgins " need not blush to read
— he is charming. There never was a more subtle and
ingenious master of language, and it is a grievous pity
that he should so often have used it so Ul. Our speci-
men of his ' Loves ' must be taken from the episodes
rather than from the ordinary course of the poems.
The folloAving, however, will not offend. The poet re-
nounces the vain struggle which he has been waging
against love : —

" I yield, great Love ! my former crimes forgive.
Forget my rebel thoughts, and let me live :
No need of force : I willingly obey.
And now, unarmed, shall prove no glorious prey.
So take thy mother's doves, thy myrtle crown,
And for thy chariot Mars will lend his own ;
There slialt tliou sit in thy triumphal pride, "\

And whilst glad shouts resound on every side. >

Thy gentle hands thy mother's doves shall guide. )
And then, to make thy glorious pomp and state, \
A train of sighing youths and maids shall wait, >
Yet none coniplaiii of an unhappy fate. )

Then Modesty, with veils thrown o'er her face,
Now doubly blushing at her own disgrace ;
Then sober thoughts, and whatsoe'er disdains
Love's power, shall feel his power, and wear his chains.



THE LOVE-POEMS. 31

Then all shall fear, all bow, yet all rejoice —

' lo triiimphe ! ' is the public voice.

Thy constant guards, soft fancy, hope, and fear,

Anger, and soft caresses shall be there :

By these strong guards are gods and men o'erthrown,

These conquer for thee. Love, and these alone :

Thy mother, from the sky, thy pomp shall grace,

And scatter sweetest roses in thy face.

Then glorious Love shall ride, profusely dressed

With all the richest jewels of the East,

Rich gems thy quiver, and thy wheels infold.

And hide the poorness of the baser gold." — D.

In the following the poet claims a purity and fidelity
for his affection with which it is impossible to credit
him : —



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