Archives for: May 2010, 06

05/06/10

Permalink 12:18:48 pm, by Chris Jones Email , 446 words, 2856 views   English (US)
Categories: Ovid's exile poetry

Sufficit atque malis animus

In book 3, the reality of exile was starting to sink in. In an earlier post I noted the immediacy of the poetry in book 1, written while the wound was still fresh:

Dum tamen et terris dubius iactabar et undis,
   fallebat curas aegraque corda labor.
(III.2.15-6)

Dubius is the key word here; Ovid was uncertain and anxious about the future, a denial common in the opening stages of grief. So fallebat is probably closer to “beguiled” than “deceived".

Once Ovid arrived at Tomis he penned a more sober reflection de causa relegationis, which resulted in the long, lawyerly defense outlined in book 2. Now at book 3, Ovid has started living with the sentence…

Ut via finita est et opus requievit eundi,
   et poenae tellus est mihi tacta meae,
(ibid. 17-8)

…and the reality of his circumstances has changed his attitude:

nil nisi flere libet, nec nostro parcior imber
   lumine, de verna quam nive manat aqua.
(ibid. 19-20)

[Lumine is poetic for the eye. Quam - “than", despite its unusual position splitting the prepositional phrase de verna nive, follows the comparative parcior - “scarcer". Note also the classical “rule of three” in ll. 17-8: Three phrases, each larger than the last, all essentially saying the same thing.]

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Qui sciet quae quoque sint modo dicenda, nisi tamen in procinctu paratamque ad omnis casus habuerit eloquentiam, velut clausis thesauris incubabit.

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