Love Poet Dumped by Mistress for Bad Performance: Lewis Lapham

The Rome of Ovid’s time was devoted to self-indulgence. Aristocrats amused themselves with endless parties, theatrical performances, circuses and sexual adventures.

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Married at 16 to his first wife, Ovid was the era’s supreme chronicler of women, love and sex. In his 18 B.C.E best-seller, “Amores,” the poet celebrated his gorgeous and passionate mistress, Corinna, she of the lustrous auburn hair and curvaceous bottom.

After several intense years, Corinna dumped him for a virile soldier. As Ovid lamented in his verse, “When I held her I was limp as yesterday’s lettuce,” adding, “I couldn’t get my pleasure-part to work.”

I spoke with Elizabeth Abbott, author of “Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman,” on the following topics:

1. Vessels of Seed

2. East vs. West

3. Ovid’s Corinna

4. Bastards

5. Post-Sexual Revolution

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(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at lhl@laphamsquarterly.org.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

Source: Duckworth Overlook via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "Mistresses: A History of the Other Women" by Elizabeth Abbot. Close

The cover jacket of "Mistresses: A History of the Other Women" by Elizabeth Abbot.

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Source: Duckworth Overlook via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "Mistresses: A History of the Other Women" by Elizabeth Abbot.

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