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A Note on the Translations

The first book of the Art of Love was translated by John Dryden (1631-1700). Dryden did not finish the translation; it was completed by William Congreve (1670-1729). The Remedy of Love was translated by Nahum Tate (1652-1715), Poet Laureate of England from 1692. The original edition of these translations was published by Jacob and Richard Tonson, London, 1709, along with the Court of Love and the History of Love. The Amores here are taken from a collection called Miscellany Poems (or Dryden's Miscellany), published as a series by Jacob Tonson from 1684 on. These translations were reprinted several times in England and the US through the 18th and 19th c..

The other poets represented here were all colleagues of Dryden's, from the group of "Court Poets" of the Restoration.

  • Thomas Creech, 1659-1700, published translations of various classical authors as well as original poems. He is best known for his 1682 translation of Lucretius.
  • Henry Cromwell, b. 1659, was a cousin of the Protector Oliver Cromwell and a friend of Alexander Pope.
  • Richard Duke, 1658-1711, joined with Dryden and other poets in a translation of the satires of Juvenal and Persius.
  • Laurence Eusden, 1688-1730, became Poet Laureate in 1718. He was one of the translators in the joint edition of the Metamorphoses published in 1751 and now known as "Garth's Metamorphoses."
  • Charles Hopkins, 1664-1700, published The History of Love — A Poem: In a Letter to a Lady in 1695. It includes tales adapted from Ovid's Metamorphoses and Heroides.
  • Thomas Rymer, 1641-1713, was a literary critic who wrote on tragedy. He also published the Foedera, a collection of the treaties and diplomatic documents of the British government from A.D. 1100 to A.D. 1700.
  • Sir Charles Sedley, 1639?-1701, wrote a tragedy on Antony and Cleopatra as well as several collections of lyric poems.
  • George Stepney, 1663-1707, was also one of the translators of Latin satires.
  • John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, 1647-1680, is best known as a satirist.

The Court of Love, here called "A Tale from Chaucer," is adapted from a poem preserved in only one manuscript (Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, R.3.19). It was attributed to Chaucer by Stowe in his 1561 edition, and accepted by other editors thereafter, but it is not actually Chaucer's work. Skeat prints it with other apocryphal works in the Supplement (1897)to his 6-volume edition of Chaucer (Oxford, 1894). Based on its language, he dates it to the early 16th century. The pseudo-Chaucerian Court of Love is 1442 lines long, in rhyme royal stanzas (7 lines rhymed abbaacc). The adaptation, only a bit over 300 lines and in heroic couplets, omits the detailed recounting of the Laws of Love which makes up the bulk of the earlier poem; it also omits the "Birds' Matins" that closes the poem.

The combination of Chaucer and Ovid is not as arbitrary as it might appear, since Ovid was one of the major influences on Chaucer. Chaucer's Legends of Good Women, in particular, uses Ovid's Heroides as a significant source.

To read more about English poets' uses of Ovid, see for example:

    Sarah Annes Brown, The Metamorphosis of Ovid: From Chaucer to Ted Hughes. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999 Gilbert Highet, The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1949 Lee T. Pearcy, The Mediated Muse: English Translations of Ovid, 1560-1700. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1984

— AEM


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