Ovidian Delight III

And we return to Ovid for this evening.


Arma dedi Danais in Amazonas; arma supersunt,

Quae tibi dem et turmae, Penthesilea, tuae.

Ite in bella pares; vincant, quibus alma Dione

Faverit et toto qui volat orbe puer.


I have given arms to the Greeks against the Amazons; the arms which remain,

I must give to you and your cohort, Penthesilea.

Go into war on equal terms; let those win whom kindly Dione

favours and the boy who flies over the whole world.


Once again, and epic flavour opens the book, the third book of the Ars Amatoria, and Ovid pays verbal homage to Virgil. The first word of the latter's fabulous epic, the Aeneid, is 'arma'. Ovid is not in fact announcing a pitched battle between the equally armed Greeks and Amazons. We are back to the theme of love in lines three and four. Dione is another name for Venus and the 'boy' of line four, Cupid. Venus is the umpire of this war along with her mischievous son. Love is like a war. And Ovid announces he will finish his poem by arming women for this war. The first two books have armed the men, now he turns to the ladies. Clever Ovid shows that he perfectly understands epic style and subject matter. But he is sticking to love and rather cheekily argues, through the love/war analogy, that his task is not so different.

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