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Ovid's Toyshop of the Heart

Ovid's Toyshop of the Heart: Epistulae Heroidum

FLORENCE VERDUCCI
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zv3r8
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  • Book Info
    Ovid's Toyshop of the Heart
    Book Description:

    Florence Verducci challenges the presuppositions and expectations that have led to embarrassed censure of the wit and comic irreverence that Ovid wove into these dramatic monologues, addressed by his heroines to absent lovers.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5491-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. A NOTE ON THE TRANSLATIONS AND ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. x-2)
  5. I THE CHAMBERS OF ROMANCE
    (pp. 3-32)

    For many readers, the wit and comic irreverence of Ovid’sHeroideshave seemed either the unfortunate flaws of the collection or its all too sparse yet inexplicable delights. In either case, they seem transgressions which are glaring examples of the poet’s infatuation with his own talent, hisamor ingenii sui.¹ Moreover, they are stylistic aberrations which seem evidence of a native prolixity and instability of tone whose undisciplined indulgence becomes, in theHeroides, especially conspicuous because deplorably inopportune.

    The Ovidian vagaries of mood and emphasis seem incompatible with the combined imperatives of his subjects and, despite its vaunted originality, his...

  6. II JASON’S TWO MEDEAS: HEROIDES 6 AND 12
    (pp. 33-86)

    Your ship, I am told, has returned you to Thessalian shores, and the fleece of the golden ram has made you rich.

    Permit me to compliment you on your safety, and on such success as you had more properly divulged in writing to me.

    The winds, of course, may have baffled even your ardent inclination for a homeward course past those realms I have pledged to you as your own.

    Nonetheless, however adverse the winds, a letter may be written. Hypsipyle was entitled to the courtesy of a personal note from your hand.

    Why was it vulgar rumor, and not...

  7. III SERVITIUM AMORIS: HEROIDES 3
    (pp. 87-122)

    What you will now read comes to you from stolen Briseis: Greek, but clumsily written in her barbarian hand.

    Still, every blot you see on my characters is owed to a tear, and tears are just as eloquent as words.

    If a small complaint about you, my lord and master, is not wrong, then I lodge, respecting my lord and master, a small complaint.

    It was not your fault I was surrendered to the king’s demand so quickly—although this is also your fault.

    No sooner had Eurybates and Talthybius come to summon me than I was given to accompany...

  8. IV ELEGIAC CONVENTION AS ARTISTIC DILEMMA: HEROIDES 15
    (pp. 123-180)

    Tell me: with your first glance at this learned and passionate hand, did your eyes instantly tell you it was mine?

    Or if you had not read the name of the writer, Sappho’s name, would you fail to know from whose hand this brief letter came?

    And perhaps you will ask why I write in elegy’s rhythms when my sure gifts lie in the lyric mode.

    This love of mine demands tears: elegy is the music for pain. No lyre can fit its intervals to my grieving.

    I burn, I burn like the rich field ablaze with its harvest of...

  9. V ORDINARY INCEST: HEROIDES 11
    (pp. 181-234)

    If any of the words I write should be blurred by dark stains, the blood of its mistress shall have blotted this small letter of mine.

    My right hand holds the pen, the other an unsheathed blade, and in my lap the scroll lies unrolled.

    This is the image of Aeolus’ daughter, writing to her brother; in this posture, it seems, I can sweeten a cruel Father’s heart.

    I wish he were here himself, an onlooker at my death, and that the work were done in his sight, and what he commanded, he saw.

    Savage as he is, and so...

  10. VI ARIADNE IN EXTREMIS: HEROIDES 10
    (pp. 235-286)

    I have found the whole race of wild beasts gentler than you. I might better have trusted any of them than trust in you.

    The letter you read, Theseus, I send from that shore from which the sails carried your ship—without me, the shore where my sleep betrayed me fully, where you betrayed me, in a crime plotted against me as I slept.

    It was that time when the earth is first sprinkled with crystal frost and the birds complain, hidden in the leaves.

    Half-waking, languid from sleep, I turned on my side, and my hands felt for Theseus....

  11. VII POSTSCRIPT IN LIEU OF PREFACE: Three Ways of Resurrecting Ovid
    (pp. 287-306)

    Oscar Wilde once said that “only an auctioneer can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.” The critic whose taste is sufficiently catholic to allow him to discover, to discriminate, and then to publish, the literary virtues of Vergil’sAeneid, Propertius’Monobiblos, and Horace’sEpodeswill not expect his remarks to expose him almost axiomatically to a suspicion of tendentious bias or imposture. Yet, should Ovid’sHeroidesenter the list as a somewhat less than equal claimant for our interest, his remarks will perhaps be anticipated, if not finally judged, with some disquieting suspicion. Even the most closely reasoned...

  12. Index
    (pp. 307-310)