Each of Ovid’s Amores presents a slightly different view of love. Many of his poems have links between them, for example 3.4 and 2.19 (which both involve a custos and puella), but they also differ hugely (3.4 and 2.19 present almost opposing arguments). This leads to the conclusion that perhaps Ovid is highlighting how love changes according to the situation.
In 3.2, we see Ovid using his rhetorical skill to woo a lady at the races. This poem seems to present almost an idealistic or fantasy view of love, which is highlighted by the abundance of mythological and religious references: in this poem alone we see Pelops, the legs of Atalanta and Diana and the parade of the effigies of Gods. Ovid uses various devices to encapsulate his little world of love in the circus. He marks out his area by talking about the lines which marked out the seats (“cogit nos linea iungi”) which push the two characters ...view middle of the document...
2’s exclusive sphere of love in a public place. In 3.4, Ovid attempts to persuade a man (likely the husband or father) to not be so harsh and lock a puella away to prevent adultery. Ovid suggests that if a woman in adulterous, nothing can stop her. This is a very unique argument and would have been particularly topical when released around 16BC (one year after Augustus’ Lex Iulia altering moral and social legislation). Ovid’s experience to being in love here is most certainly one of lust and not platonic love, which is only was only hinted at in 3.2 (“vel digitis en ego tollo meis” suggests that he is attempting to slip his fingers into inappropriate places). This poem also clearly indicates that love will always have obstacles. However, Ovid implies that obstacles make love more exhilarating – the message seems to be that forbidden love is more attractive than other love. This argument is particularly emphasised in the line “cui peccare licet, peccat minus”. The repetition of the verb peccare (to sin) highlights the almost reverse argument that that if one is allowed to do something, it is less exciting doing it. This poem is by its nature slightly on edge and mischievous, and this tongue-in-cheek style is further emphasised towards the end with the aside “multos dabit” (and she will give you many [new friends]) when Ovid refers to the benefits of adultery. No doubt this poem is risky: it perhaps suggests that love (of which, in this case, adultery is a synonym), is risky itself.
However, as we embark onto Amores 3.5, Ovid changes his tone once again. His poem opens with “Nox erat” which is foreboding and ominous – perhaps this is the poem which considers the darker sides of love? However, in line 3 we see a sunny ‘locus amoenus’, which is established with “colle sub aprico”. The varying tone perhaps implies that Ovid views the experience of being in love as a varied one – sometimes it is happy, sometimes it is sorrowful and painful. As the poem goes on, however, Ovid leans more towards the negative view.
Ovid Amores 3