Ovid: Amores. Text,Prolegomena and Commentary in Four Volumes. Volume I. Text and Prolegomena (Arca,Classical and Medieval Texts,Papers and Monographs 20)by J. C. McKeown
The first volume of this major commentary begins appropriately with Prolegomena, before offering a text of Ovid's Amores . The Prolegomena has eight chapters: Tenerorum Lusor Amorum; Doctrina; Recitation; Chronology; The Arrangement of the Poems; The Title; Metre; The Text. Succinct, clear and learned, these chapters alone form an excellent all-round introduction to Ovid as a love-poet, and touch on many aspects of more general relevance to Augustan and Hellenistic poetry. Even in its incomplete form (the final volume is still in preparation), the Commentary on the Amores of Ovid has become a scholarly standard. The introductions to each elegy are succinct, readable and original, and take careful account of relevant modern discussions. The commentary is full of meticulous detail. McKeown's Ovid retains his lightness of touch, however, and poet and commentator share an interest in the wit arising from situation and word-play.
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(From Preface, p.vii) Few ancient poets evoke such widely differing responses from their readers as does Ovid. Some are enthralled by his brilliant wit and wonderful command of language. Others dismiss those same qualities as disappointing lasciuia. The latter view, not without its adherents in antiquity, seems to predominate nowadays. How else can one explain the lack of substantial modern commentaries on so many of his works and the general neglect or, at best, lip-service which he suffers in accounts of Augustan poetry? It is now almost twenty-five years since I first read an Amores-poem. That elegy was 3.9. As I later came to realise, the lament for Tibullus is in some respects untypical of the collection as a whole. Nevertheless, the elegantly fantastic conception of the poem and the musical power of lines such as Memnona si mater, mater plorauit Achillem and quid pater Ismario, quid mater profuit Orpheo? inspired me with an enthusiasm and admiration for Ovid's poetry which many years of detailed study have not diminished, but rather increased.
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