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Written by Rudolf Pretzler
Love, obviously, is the main topic of the love poems. However, the focus is strictly on love that has yet to mature. Most love poems of the three main works dealing with love contain references to young and foolish love. Little is said about older people, giving the modern reader a good insight into the ideals of the ancient world. Love was something for the young and not really connected to marriage per se.
Different from love poems written by Christian poets of the last 2000 years, Ovid and other Roman poets used and described sexuality quite explicitly. References to sexuality of individual people and Gods are common throughout the three pieces of work.
As Ovid's and presumably most of the pre-Christian ancient world's view on fidelity was more liberal it often appears in the love poems. Ovid overtly tells his audience to take lovers and have a healthy relationship with one's libido. At the same time the intricate relationship between man and woman needs to be maintained through trickery.
Although gender as such is not directly discussed as a topic, most poems and even whole sections of books are targeted towards a specific gender. The difference between male and female is highlighted often throughout the poems. One of the best known and most humorous works "Ars Amatoria", the art to/of love, has three parts that are explicitly targeted towards individual genders. The first part tells man how to seduce woman. The second part tells man how to keep woman at their sides, using specific gender specific traits. The third part of the book tells woman how to use their guile to seduce men.
Ovid's love poetry contains very humorous tips and tricks on how to obtain and keep love. It is common for ancient Roman poetry to contain a certain level of humor, especially when human emotions are addressed. While they are a big part of human life, such emotions like love are considered to be only really needed by the young and foolish, as they are opposed to wisdom.
As most of Ovid's love poetry is written in the elegiac genre the poems contain numerous references to the poet and his battle with poetry. For example, the first poem from the first book of "Amores" contains a livid explanation why Ovid is writing love elegies. It is explained that Cupid stole the epic meter from him, rendering him impossible to invent anything but love elegies. Other parts of his work reference him directly as the artist.
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