Friday, January 29, 2010

Eliot Spitzer: The Nouvelle Ovid and His Ars Amatoria

drawing by marguerita

As he continues his attempts at a redemption tour, Eliot Spitzer recently opined on what love is -- drifting into slightly uncomfortable personal territory.

Siquis in hoc artem populo non novit amandi,
Hoc legat et lecto carmine doctus amet.
Arte citae veloque rates remoque moventur,
Arte leves currus: arte regendus amor.
Curribus Automedon lentisque erat aptus habenis,
Tiphys in Haemonia puppe magister erat:
Me Venus artificem tenero praefecit Amori;
Tiphys et Automedon dicar Amoris ego.
Ille quidem ferus est et qui mihi saepe repugnet:
Sed puer est, aetas mollis et apta regi.
Phillyrides puerum cithara perfecit Achillem,
Atque animos placida contudit arte feros.
Qui totiens socios, totiens exterruit hostes,
Creditur annosum pertimuisse senem.


"It’s one of these feelings that you sense when you meet somebody and there is a response that is different and is unique, and is palpable. And it then changes over time," Spitzer, who resigned the governor's seat in 2008 after he was snared as a client of a high-priced call girl ring, said in a wide-ranging interview posted on the Web site

"In other words, the sort of exaltation of first meeting and falling in love is, I think everybody would admit, is different than the feelings that you might have after 25 years," he said, laughing as he added, "When my wife is watching this, she may say, 'What are you talking about?' But it is."

"What I've tried to do is look within," he said. "That is where one must ultimately find one's sense of self and purpose. That's all one can do."

Spitzer said: "when you know something is stupid, don't do it."

He described it as a combination of "entitlement", "hubris" and "adrenaline" that causes some people to self-implode."To the extent that they are legitimate and justified, you've got to just accept that and move on," he said. "You can't try to deny reality sometimes. That's part of maturing and growing up.

"It's the stupidity that brings people down," he said.

in English

Book I Part I: His Task

Should anyone here not know the art of love,

read this, and learn by reading how to love.

By art the boat’s set gliding, with oar and sail,

by art the chariot’s swift: love’s ruled by art.

Automedon was skilled with Achilles’s chariot reins,

Tiphys in Thessaly was steersman of the Argo,

Venus appointed me as guide to gentle Love:

I’ll be known as Love’s Tiphys, and Automedon.

It’s true Love’s wild, and one who often flouts me:

but he’s a child of tender years, fit to be ruled.

Chiron made the young Achilles perfect at the lyre,

and tempered his wild spirits through peaceful art.

He, who so terrified his enemies and friends,

they say he greatly feared the aged Centaur.

That hand that Hector was destined to know,

was held out, at his master’s orders, to be flogged.

I am Love’s teacher as Chiron was Achilles’s,

both wild boys, both children of a goddess.

Yet the bullock’s neck is bowed beneath the yoke,

and the spirited horse’s teeth worn by the bit.

And Love will yield to me, though with his bow

he wounds my heart, shakes at me his burning torch.

The more he pierces me, the more violently he burns me,

so much the fitter am I to avenge the wounds.

Nor will I falsely say you gave me the art, Apollo,

no voice from a heavenly bird gives me advice,

I never caught sight of Clio or Clio’s sisters

while herding the flocks, Ascra, in your valleys:

Experience prompts this work: listen to the expert poet:

I sing true: Venus, help my venture!

Far away from here, you badges of modesty,

the thin headband, the ankle-covering dress.

I sing of safe love, permissible intrigue,

and there’ll be nothing sinful in my song.

Now the first task for you who come as a raw recruit

is to find out who you might wish to love.

The next task is to make sure that she likes you:

the third, to see to it that the love will last.

That’s my aim, that’s the ground my chariot will cover:

that’s the post my thundering wheels will scrape.

About Ovid:Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BCE – 17 or 18 CE), known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria, three major collections of erotic poetry, the Metamorphoses a mythological hexameter poem, the Fasti, about the Roman calendar, and the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, two collections of poems written in exile on the Black Sea. Ovid was also the author of several smaller pieces, theRemedia Amoris, the Medicamina Faciei Femineae, and the Ibis, a long curse-poem. He also authored a lost tragedy, Medea. He is considered a master of the elegiac couplet, and is traditionally ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonic poets of Latin literature. The scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the canonical Latin love elegists.[1] His poetry, much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, decisively influenced European art andliterature and remains as one of the most important sources of classical mythology.[2]

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