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Love Poet Dumped by Mistress for Bad Performance: Lewis Lapham

The cover jacket of
The cover jacket of "Mistresses: A History of the Other Women" by Elizabeth Abbot. Source: Duckworth Overlook via Bloomberg

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

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

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

To buy this book in North America, click here.

(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.)

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