Ars amatoria

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Ars amatoria , also Ars amandi ( Latin for love ), is a didactic poem in three books by the Roman poet Ovid , written between 1 BC. And 4 AD

Initially, three important topics are dealt with in two books:

  • Where can a man in Rome meet a girl?
  • How can a man win their love?
  • How can a man keep his partner?

After a first publication in two books appeared to have been a great success, Ovid wrote a third book dealing with the three subjects in an analogous way for women.

Ovid places himself in the long ancient tradition of the ancient didactic poem , but also breaks it. So he wrote z. B. instead of hexameters in elegiac distiches : the elegy was the usual lyrical form for love poems. Despite his repeated assurances that none of the most famous ancient oracle sites of Delphi or Didyma could proclaim truer than his muse , he does not convey any information that could have been new to the reader. Instead, he gives hints such as that one should be a cavalier in the chariot race in the Circus Maximuswho gallantly brush the dust off a dress next to a lady seated, even if there is no dust at all; that one should promise the beloved in love letters the blue of the sky - every person who has walked along could be rich in promises; or that a short woman should receive her admirer lying down, but must make sure that the feet remain hidden under the robe so that the true size cannot be recognized. When advised to show calm sovereignty towards the rival ("be patient with your rival"), the poet states that jealousy "not only played a trick on him".

He does not give advice that could be applied immediately, but uses subtle parables, while the ostensible aim is to deal with the topic in all its aspects in an educated and varied manner in an urban conversational tone: in connection with the hint that it is easy to get to know someone in the theater , Ovid reports - quite poeta doctus - z. B. the story of the robbery of the Sabine women .

Or he portrays love with ironic allusions as military service that supposedly requires the strictest obedience to the honored women; or he advises women to make their admirers artificially jealous, so as not to have to faint by too much security: To this end, should a consecrated slave with the cry: " Perimus -" We are lost, "" the Tête- Interrupt à-tête , so that the young lover has to hide in the closet for a while.

Using details from Greek mythology , everyday Roman life and general human life, the standard situations and clichés of the topic are dealt with. This Topik takes Ovid, though he repeatedly claimed his erotic recommendations were, tested "longo usu" "through years of practice," the literary tradition, namely the Latin Love Elegy and probably the (largely lost) Hellenistic erotic poetry.

Title page of an edition of the "Ars amatoria", Frankfurt 1644

Ovid's style never goes rough or obscene. Naturally, he cannot leave out the “embarrassing” entirely, “alma Dione / praecipue nostrum est, quod pudet, inquit opus” “because the embarrassing is especially our business, says the gracious Venus ”. Sexual issues in the narrower sense are only dealt with towards the end of the two parts. At the end of the second book it is about the joys of an orgasm together . He also writes: “Odi concubitus, qui non utrumque resolvunt. / Hoc est, cur pueri tangar amore minus ” (“ I don't like sexual intercourse that doesn't relax both of them. That is also the reason why I love boyfriends less ”[sic!]).

At the end of the third part, the positions during sexual intercourse are then declined, for which women should measure their own bodies.

The work was such a great success that the poet added Remedia amoris ( antidote to love ) in the same style , but at the very highest point one was not at all pleased: the frivolous art of love did not fit into the political program of the emperor Augustus , who planned a moral renewal of the state after the Roman civil wars , and was supposedly one of the reasons for Ovid's lifelong banishment to Tomis on the Black Sea in what is now Romania .

However, it is historically more likely that the work provided only a welcome pretext to cover up the political causes of the exile; suggests that Ovid was only banished eight years after the book was published, but at the same time with prominent opponents of Augustus.


Editions, translations and commentaries

  • Adrian S. Hollis : Ovid, Ars amatoria. Book I . Clarendon Press, Oxford ³1992.
  • Markus Janka : Ovid, Ars amatoria. Book 2, commentary . Winter, Heidelberg 1997.
  • Edward J. Kenney (Ed.): P. Ovidi Nasonis Amores. Medicamini faciei femineae. Ars amatoria. Remedia amoris . Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford 1995.
  • Publius Ovidius Naso: Ars amatoria . Latin / German, transl. and ed. by Michael von Albrecht . Reclam, Stuttgart 2003.
  • Antonio Ramírez de Verger (Ed.): P. Ovidius Naso. Carmina amatoria: amores, medicamina faciei femineae, ars amatoria, remedia amoris . Saur, Munich a. a. 2003.
  • Publius Ovidius Naso: Love Art . Latin-German, ed. and over. by Niklas Holzberg . Akad.-Verl., Berlin ⁵2011.
  • Publius Ovidius Naso: Love Art . In the transmission by Wilhelm Hertzberg, revised and commented by Tobias Roth , Asmus Trautsch and Melanie Möller . Galiani Berlin, Berlin 2017.

Research literature

  • Susanne Daams: Epic and elegiac story in Ovid. Ars amatoria and metamorphoses . M-Press, Munich 2003.
  • Konrad Heldmann : Poetry or Love Art? The mythological tales in Ovid's Ars amatoria . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001.
  • Ulrike Kettemann: Interpretations of sentence and verse in Ovid's erotic didactic poem. Intention and reception of form and content . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1979.
  • Julia Wildberger: Ovid's school of "elegiac" love. Erotodidaxe and psychagogie in the "Ars amatoria" . Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1998.

Web links

Commons : Ars Amatoria  - collection of images, videos and audio files