Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the Muses, and now the success of some early love-poems fired his genius and changed his life. Henceforth he devoted himself to poetry and a life of literary ease. Such a life he loved above all others, and fortunately his circumstances were such that he was able to indulge himself. The greater part of his life was passed under exceptionally happy circumstances. The conscious production of immortal works must in itself have been the source of great satisfaction to the author. Besides this, Ovid had friends and congenial companions among the poets and other prominent men of Rome.

After two unhappy marriages, Ovid found in his third wife a companion upon whom he bestowed great praise in his poems. He had a daughter, it is uncertain by which wife.

When the poet was fifty years old and his hair was well sprinkled with gray, suddenly there came upon him, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, a decree from the hand of Augustus banishing him to the town of Tomi, on the Black Sea, near the mouth of the Danube. The cause of this decree is not known. Ovid everywhere says that his fault or mistake did not amount to a crime.

Ovid took a sorrowful farewell of his friends and family and of the city which he loved so well. After a long and tedious journey he arrived at his destination, the home of the barbarous Getae. There, amid very uncongenial surroundings, he passed the remaining years of his life ; and there he died, unpardoned, in the year 17 A.D. (according to some, 18 A.D.), at the age of fifty-nine (or sixty).

Ovid's chief works were as follows :

1. Amores, three books of short poems on various subjects, but mainly love-poems addressed to Corinna, the fictitious name of Ovid's mistress.

2. Heroides, twenty-one epistles, mainly imaginary loveletters from famous women of the heroic age to their absent husbands or lovers.

3, Ars Amatoria, in three books, in form didactic, conveying instructions to men and women how to gain the affections of the opposite sex.

- 4. Remedia Amoris, containing instructions how to overcome the passion of love.

5. Metamorphoses, in fifteen books, consisting of about two hundred and fifty stories on various subjects, from the creation of the world to the deification of Caesar, loosely but cleverly joined together, and having only this in common, that they all contain some transformation, some scene in which something is changed to something else. “Metamorphoses” is a Greek word (meta uoppwoes), meaning transformations, and is paraphrased by Ovid in the phrase mutatae formae. It usually happens that men are changed by the gods, as a reward or a punishment, into the lower animals, or into trees, flowers, stones, stars, etc. Other transformations also occur.

6. Fasti, in six books, corresponding to the first six months of the year and containing accounts of the Roman festivals that took place in those months, together with the origin of those festivals and any myths connected with them.

7. Tristia, in five books, laments and entreaties written in banishment to his friends in Rome, but without mentioning names, for fear of compromising the persons addressed.

8. Epistulae ex Ponto, in four books, similar to the Tristia, but mentioning names.

9. Ibis, an invective against some enemy at Rome. 10. Medea, a tragedy, famous at the time but lost to us. It belonged to Ovid's earlier works.

11. Besides these, we have a fragment De Medicamine Faciei, giving instructions how to beautify and preserve the complexion.

CHARACTERIZATION.

Ovid was one of the cleverest tale-tellers that ever told a tale : a poet of vivid imagination and fine descriptive power, a master of language and a skilful versifier, a close observer of life and a careful analyzer of character, well versed in Greek and Roman literature and appreciative of the best, polished and well acquainted with his Rome, he drew pictures which won the admiration of his contemporaries and have been a source of unending enjoyment to after generations.

II. The Metres of Ovid. Greek and Latin versification is based on the length of syllables, and not on the word-accent as in our language. Syllables are either long (-) or short (-), or common (sometimes long, sometimes short, -). One long syllable is equal to two shorts. The length of a syllable is called its quantity. The Latin quantities must usually be learned by careful observation, but some useful rules may be given :

1. A vowel before another vowel (or separated from it only by h) is usually short, e.g. měus, påer.

2. A short vowel coming before two consonants, either in the same word or in different words, counts as long, and the syllable is said to be long by position. A double consonant (x or z) has the same effect as two consonants.

3. If these two.consonants be a mute and a liquid (tr, br, etc.), the syllable may remain short; e.g. teněbrae. Such syllables are usually common.

4. All diphthongs are long.
Some other rules may be conveniently subjoined here :

5. Sometimes two vowels, not naturally forming a diphthong, are in pronunciation run together into one syllable, e.g. deinde. This process is called Synizesis or Synaeresis.

6. Hiatus is the coming together of two vowel sounds, one at the end of a word, the other at the beginning of the next word. In Ovid this is, as a rule, permitted only when the first word is a monosyllabic interjection or a polysyllabic proper name ending with the ictus-syllable of the fifth foot. In other cases this unpleasant juxtaposition of vowel sounds is avoided by eliminating one of those sounds.

a. Usually the first vowel sound is omitted by Elision ; e.g. pronounce perque hiemes as perquiemes.

7. When the second word is es or est of the verb sum, the e is omitted by Aphaeresis ; e.g. pronounce itum est as itumst.

NOTE 1. Notice that h never counts as a consonant in Latin.
NOTE 2. Notice that final am, em, and um are elided, just like vowels.

NOTE 3. It is not probable that these elided sounds were completely omitted in Latin, but they did not count in the verse, and may be most conveniently omitted by us.

THE DACTYLIC HEXAMETER. The metre in which the Metamorphoses is written is called the Dactylic Hexameter, or Heroic Hexameter, or simply Hexameter.

The Dactyl is a foot consisting of one long and two short syllables, thus: Luu. The rhythmical accent on the first syllable of this foot is called the Ictus, and the syllable upon which the Ictus falls is called the Thesis. The remainder of the foot is called the Arsis.* The Dactylic Hexameter is, theoretically, a verse consisting of six Dactyls. The last foot, however, always consists of but two syllables, eu or e-. The fifth Dactyl is very rarely replaced by a Spondee ( -). When this occurs, the verse is called a Spondaic Verse. Any of the other four Dactyls may be freely replaced by Spondees. So the feet and syllables of a Dactylic Hexameter would be as follows :

-Jul-JU I --Jul-Jul-uul-ul. This long verse, if read without a pause, would grow monotonous. Usually there is a pause near the middle of the verse, giving the effect rather of two short verses. This pause usually coincides with the Principal Caesura. Caesura (cutting) takes place whenever the end of the word does not coincide with the end of the foot. When the Caesura comes immediately after the ictus-syllable, it is called masculine ; when it comes after one of the short syllables, it is called feminine. The Principal Caesura is the Semiquinaria, or Penthemimeral, occurring in the middle of the third foot. The next in importance is the Semiseptenaria, or Hephthemimeral, in the middle of the fourth foot. When this occurs, there is usually combined with it the Semiternaria or Trihemimeral Caesura in the middle of the second foot. Often there is a choice of Caesuras, and the reader in selecting the pause should have regard for the punctuation and sense.

* These terms are sometimes used in just the opposite signification.

EXAMPLES OF THE HEXAMETER.

"vul euule -1" - | - uulu-
Aurea prima sata (e)st aetas, quae vindice nullo,

" u unatuulevul "-7-12 vule-
sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.

uue vulk |- |- v ulevule-
Poena metusqu(e) aberant, nec verba minantia fixo
"Uue-1" 7-1 -11 uule-
aere legebantur, nec supplex turba timebat

iúdicis ora suí, † sed erant sine iúdice túti.
Nondum cae'sa suís, peregrin(um) ut viseret orbem
montibus in liquidás † pinús descenderat úndas,
núllaque mortales + praetér sua lítora nórant,

THE ELEGIAC DISTICH.

The measure of which Ovid was most fond and which he developed to its greatest perfection is the Elegiac Distich.

This he used in all his surviving works except the Metamorphoses. It is a couplet consisting of an Hexameter followed by a Pentameter. The latter verse is a mutilated Hexameter, formed by the omission of the last half of the third and sixth feet. There is, however, this additional difference : No spondees are admitted into the second half of the verse. The scheme, then, will be as follows :

" Jule jūl1"uulevule.

EXAMPLES OF THE ELEGIAC DISTICH.

Hánc tua Penelope lentó tibi míttit, Ulixe :

níl mihi réscribás, || áttamen ipse vení
Tróia iacét certé | Danaís invisa puellis :

vix Priamús tanti || tótaque Tróia fuít.
O utinám tum, cúm || Lacedae'mona classe petebat,

obrutus insanís || ésset adúlter aquís !

« ZurückWeiter »