The Mad Lovers of the Ovidian Lais

  • Tracy Adams
Part of the Studies in Arthurian and Courtly Cultures book series (SACC)

Abstract

Romance composers borrowed their symptoms of amor principally from Ovid’s love writings. Scholars generally have considered these borrowings to be conventions or decorations rather than transmitters of serious philosophy of love and have sometimes noted the incongruity between courtly love and the satirical and misogynistic version of the emotion promoted by Ovid. Yet for many medieval readers, Ovid represented a philosopher rather than the duplicitous and elusive love expert modern readers generally understand him to be. I will argue that Ovid as read by romance composers was a philosopher who theorized upon love from a Neoplatonic perspective.1 But romance composers also incorporated another Ovidian persona familiar to modern readers into their version of Ovid, that is, the Magister amoris of the love works, creating a sort of “Super-Ovid.” Ovid, as romance composers read him, then, was a combination of these two well-know Ovidian figures, and, seeing the Magister amoris as an aspect of their Super-Ovid, romance composers viewed his advice on how to manage love in positive light, as offering models for mitigating amor, the imperious urge to consummate unleashed by elemental forces.

Keywords

Heroine Trop Metaphor Mora Tame 

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Notes

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    Per Nykrog, “The Rise of Literary Fiction,” Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, ed. Robert L. Benson, Giles Constable, and Carol D. Lanham (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), p. 599.Google Scholar
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    Pierre Hadot, Plotin ou la simplicité du regard (Paris: Etudes Augustiennes, 1989), p. 65.Google Scholar
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    Julia Kristeva, Histoires d’amour (Paris, Denoël, 1983), p. 102. My translation.Google Scholar
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    Peggy McCracken, “Engendering Sacrifice: Blood, Lineage, and Infanticide in Old French Literature,” Speculum 77 (2002): 67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    René Girard, Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977), p. 37.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tracy Adams 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy Adams

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