Ovid by Bocage

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By PAUL MARTINS*

Commentary on the translation of “As Metamorfoses”, by Ovid, made by Bocage.

Ovid was Rome's most eclectic and copious poet. His repertoire synthesizes a wide spectrum of genres, which began to be produced from the XNUMXst century onwards. The. C. with the incursion of new poetic practices, antagonistic to those produced until then. This new poetics, whose main characteristics were the predilection for the diminutive, for the detail, for the speed and for the lightness, opposed to the seriousness of civil and ancient verses that occupied the poetic scene until then. However, the Roman novelty was not so new, rather it was affiliated with Alexandrianism – artistic-cultural moment of the Hellenistic world.

Thus, Ovid must be seen as a synthesis, as it occupies a certain poetic field that had already been cultivated by Catullus, Horace, Virgil, Propertius and Tibulus, significant poets for what the Modern World called Classical Antiquity and possessing decisive importance in the formulation of prescriptive techniques and motifs in the classical arts of the XNUMXth, XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries.

More than any other ancient poet, Ovid served as a model and emulator for Chaucer, Ben Jonson and Shakespeare, who, not satisfied with taking Ovidian motifs into his texts, even reproduced his verses as is the case of “At lovers' perjuries/they say Jove laught” [Jove is said to laugh at the perjuries of lovers] (Romeo and Juliet, II, 2). His later poetic intervention, however, is not restricted to the verbal arts. Much has already been discussed about its importance for the plastic arts of the XNUMXth century. Your most relevant text, The Metamorphoses, directly or indirectly, was a source for Tiziano Vecellio in Perseus and Andromeda (Wallace Collection – London – see The Metamorphoses, Book IV, 603-764 and V):

or stops at The Abduction of Proserpine by Bernini (Galeria Borghese – Rome – see The Metamorphoses, Book V, 341-408):

The Metamorphoses are a collection of mythological stories that, apparently, have no connection, except for the fact that they revitalize the poetic-mythological narrative from the point of view of an etiological hue, to the liking of Callimachus of Cyrene (310 – 240 BC). The poem is composed of 15 books that deal with approximately 250 etiological legends, showing the birth of beings and, fundamentally, their transfiguration into others and hence, precisely, the name of the work.

It should also be noted how the modern world has appropriatedThe Metamorphoses, in view of its circulation, in erudite and vulgar circles. If the allusion already characterizes a certain commitment to dissemination, what can be said about its translation or adaptation? Well, there are countless allusions and translations of this text by Ovid from the XNUMXth – XNUMXth centuries, which, mainly, in Portuguese remained absolutely inaccessible.

Today it's easier to get in touch with Ovídio d'The Metamorphoses, because a beautiful edition, or at least part of it in Portuguese, was published by Hedra, in its Tradutores Collection. In this specific case, the – exceptional – translation is signed by none other than Bocage, who, in this sense, justifies his Arcadian affiliation by translating part of this work. After all, much has been said about the recovery of classical motifs since the Renaissance, but little has been shown empirically as to how this was achieved.

The book, very well taken care of, brings the original text in Latin at the end, a fact that may bother the most precious ones, as it makes it difficult to check the translation against the original. On the other hand, it offers a beautiful introduction about the technique of translation in the XNUMXth century, made with care and attention by João Angelo Oliva Neto, professor of Latin Language and Literature at USP and renowned translator of Greco-Latin letters.

* Paulo Martins he is a professor of classical letters at USP. Author, among other books, of image and power (Edusp).

Originally published in the Magazine Bravo!, No. 40, on January 02, 2001.

Reference


Ovid. the metamorphoses. Translation: Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage. Organized by João Angelo Oliva Neto. São Paulo, Editora Hedra, 232 pages.

 

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