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The title given by Ovid to this work was probably simply Heroides, or the Heroines : not Epistolae Heroidum. Priscian, lib. x. 9, cites the work under the former title; and so, Heinsius informs us, does the scholiast on the Metamorphoses, passim. It has been inferred by some from Art. iii. 345, that Epistolae was the origi. nal title : Ovid there says, speaking of his compositions,
Vel tibi composita cantetur Epistola voce
Ignotum hoc aliis ille novavit opus. This does not however prove anything. On the other hand, addressing his wife, the poet says, Trist. I. vi. 33, lamenting his feebleness to sing her praise as she deserved :
Prima locum sanctas heroidas inter haberes :
where he appears to allude to his published work “The Heroines." In the MSS. the epistles are entitled Epistolae sive Heroides, Epistolae Heroidum, or Epistolae heroides, a discrepancy which shows uncertainty as to the title. The last
of these titles appears to make herois an adjective, and it is in this sense that Loers seems to understand the word, when he calls Herois “carminum genus.” There appears to be no authority for this use of the word.
There certainly is not in Ovid. He uses the word “he- . rois” four times: Am. 11. iv. 33 ; Art. i. 713 ; Trist. v. v. 43; Trist. I. vi. 33, always in the sense of “Heroine,” vpwivn, never in the sense of “ Heroic epistle.”
Twenty-one epistles are generally published as the Heroides of Ovid. The present edition contains but fourteen: and even of these, the authorship of the last two, Laodamia and Hypermnestra, is questionable. The last nine epistles have all been condemned by some eminent German scholars, while it may be said of the last seven that their condemnation at the present day is all but universal. When Lachmann and Madvig, perhaps the two greatest Latinists of the century, join in condemning them as spurious, I have sufficient authority for excluding them from this edition. A brief recapitulation of the arguments commonly urged against them is all that is here necessary. We must in the first place make a division even of these last epistles. All of them except the epistle of Sappho, the verses of the epistle of Paris which are numbered in the edition of Heinsius 39–142, and the epistle of Cydippe from vs. 13 ad fin., are included with the most ancient MS. of the Heroides.
Of these por
tions Lachmann thus writes :...'neque ullam Spurious
Epistles. excusationem habet inepta editorum vel recentissimorum superstitio, qui epistolam Sapphus et eos versus qui apud Heinsium his numeris notati sunt, xvi. 39-142, xxi. 1 3–248, noluerint aut eicere aut circumscribere.'
The epistle that since the time of Heinsius Sappho. has been classed as the fifteenth is condemned by Lachmann, and by every scholar possessed of common sense. It need not detain us long, but a brief summary of the arguments against it is necessary. It does not appear in
MS. of the slightest value-none earlier than the fifteenth century. Before the time of Heinsius it was placed last of the series, after the epistle of Cydippe, both in the old editions, and also the manuscripts in which it appears. In some MSS. it is published along with the poems of Tibullus, and other poets, instead of Ovid. It is a skilful cento of Ovidian expressions, but abounds in lines such as Ovid could scarcely have written, such as these :
40. Nulla futura tua est: nulla futura tua est.
198. Plectra dolore tacent: muta dolore lyra est. Lachmann has pointed out that the author lived later than the time of Lucan, as furialis
• Erictho,' vs. 139, is derived from the Thessalian witch of that name in the sixth book of the Pharsalia. Some critics have gone so far as to place the composition of this epistle far in the
I think, myself, the author was
familiar with the writings of Juvenal. I may add that vs. 117, Gaudet et e nostro crescit maerore Charaxus,'condemns the epistle, as Ovid does not use the word 'maeror,' rare in poetry of the Augustan age : that 'rependo' in vs. 32, could not have been written by Ovid: vid. ad. xi. 123.
The verses inserted in the sixteenth epistle, and the completion of the twentyfirst, have even less external authority than the epistle of Sappho.
There remain the five epistles from the sixteenth to the twentieth inclusive, and the first twelve verses of the twenty-first.
These epistles are never mentioned by Ovid in any part of his voluminous writings. They differ in character from the early epistles, in containing replies from men to epistles from women. They differ from the early ones in being much more prolix, in being copied chiefly.from Alexandrine writers such as Callimachus and others instead of the old classical models, Homer and the tragedians : most important of all, in their lax, creeping, and mawkish tone. To these general differences should be added the occurrence at the end of pentameters of pudicitiae, xvi. 288, superciliis, xv. 16, deseruit,xix. 202. Ovid, as Lachmann remarks, at the time when he composed the Heroides, always closed his pentameters with dissyllables. Lachmann also points out qui for quo modo, in xvii. 213, a usage not found in Ovid. (He is wrong, however, as Merkel has pointed out, in stating that