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Romans and Romantics$
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Timothy Saunders, Charles Martindale, Ralph Pite, and Mathilde Skoie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199588541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199588541.001.0001

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On Love

On Love

(p.109) 5 On Love
Romans and Romantics

Genevieve Liveley

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores an unexpected affinity between Romans and Romantics ‘on love’. It shows that one Roman poet in particular appears repeatedly reflected in the writings of the English Romantic poets (Coleridge, Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Byron, Keats) on the subject of love: Ovid, in his Amores, Ars Amatoria, and his Metamorphoses offers an uncannily Romantic image of love — not least of all in his representation of Narcissus. Challenging received readings in which Narcissus is seen as a figure for aesthetic, poetic, and emotional superficiality, it is argued that the Romantic reception of Narcissus reveals hidden depths to this Roman figure, whose love for his own image rather represents a desire for beauty, poetry, and sympathy — a Romantic Narcissus who holds up a mirror to show Romans themselves reflecting Romantics ‘on love’.

Keywords:   Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Love, Narcissus, Ovid, Romans, Romantics, Percy Shelley, Wordsworth

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