By Julia Dyson Hejduk
Wisconsin (2014) p/b 268pp £15.95 (ISBN 9780299302047)
H.’s translation with commentary, which is the first to include both the cause of Ovid’s ‘offence’ and his ‘defence’ of his writings, is aimed at readers who have no classical knowledge. As a result, a detailed introduction is included, covering aspects such as metre, scansion and literature in the ancient world. It also includes an exploration of Ovid’s use of metaphor, e.g. the attention a lover must pay to their appearance as a metaphor for the attention an author must pay to their work of art; and of analogy, e.g. comparing the pursuit of love to chariot-racing or warfare. A list of examples of Ovid’s use of the art of love to resemble that of war, agriculture, sailing, hunting, sports, religion etc. is included.
The reasons behind Ovid’s exile are explored along with the possible role of Tiberius in the decision, but ultimately, it is argued, the important thing is the transcendence and relevance of his writing about exile, loss and mourning.
A clear translation of each book follows, along with footnotes and commentary on e.g. individual words, such as carmen, nuances of meaning, explanations of mythological characters, etc. The translation is modernised at times, and the notes provide the novice with all the help they might need. The book is suitable for readers of all abilities with an interest in literature and the ancient world.