Abstract

Abstract:

This paper studies the vocabulary of advantage, exchange, and loss in Ovid's Ars Amatoria, which stands apart from the rest of the Ovidian corpus (and from the rest of Roman erotic elegy) in its special, systematic handling of these words. Philological analysis of utor and related terms shows that the praeceptor amoris of Ars, importing language of commerce and profit into his teaching, contradicts his supposed intent of creating durable romantic relationships. To establish the unique treatment of this lexicon in Ars Amatoria, I analyze the employment of these terms across the genre of Latin elegy and across the remainder of Ovid's poetic output. Through systematic usage of terms such as usus and damnum, profit and loss, Ars Amatoria strips the elegiac relationship down to its material, commercial basis: the praeceptor amoris is teaching not the art of love, but the business of getting free sex from sex-laborers. The lexicon becomes a means of destabilizing the speaker's surface-level occupation with enduring romantic liaisons—of demystifying the elegiac relation and demonstrating that it is, at heart, an exchange of money for sex. The poet highlights the commercial exchange between meretrix and amator, ultimately giving the lie to the traditional emotional/affective façade of elegiac relationships. This lexical study additionally offers new insights into a number of Ars-like moments in Ovid's poetry after Ars.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3168
Print ISSN
0002-9475
Pages
pp. 287-318
Launched on MUSE
2021-06-03
Open Access
No
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