Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome

(Second Edition)
A Collection of New Translations by Stephen Bertman
©2019, 246 pages

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Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome

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    Erotic desire is as old as the human race and erotic literature as old as civilization.

    With bold, new translations, the author presents and discusses some of the most beautiful, stirring expressions of erotic desire from the ancient world of Greece and Rome, reaching across three thousand years of history to tap into the many kinds of passion we still know today: new or seasoned, obsessive or unrequited, heterosexual or homosexual, noble or illicit. Students learn the cultural events that led to a grand flourish of erotic poetry in Greece and Rome during the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, as well as the “Golden Age of Rome.” Readers traverse the varied works of over 35 different poets: from the epic interludes of Homer and Vergil to the personal lyrics of Sappho and Catullus, from the playful admonitions of Ovid to the dark elegies of Propertius, from a woman’s meditations on romance scribbled on a fragile papyrus in Egypt to anonymous verses about lost love scrawled on a crumbling wall in Pompeii. By introducing the reader to the greatest poets of the ancient world, this compelling collection demonstrates why ancient love poems have stood the test of time and continue to resonate with contemporary audiences.

    Complete with introductions, cultural context, and engaging analysis for each selected work, along with thought-provoking questions to stimulate classroom discussion, Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome is an ideal choice for survey courses in classics, world literature, humanities, sexuality, and gender studies.

    Stephen Bertman is professor emeritus of classical studies at Canada’s University of Windsor. He holds a doctorate in Greek and Latin from Columbia University and additional degrees in Near Eastern and Judaic studies and classics from Brandeis University and New York University. His books on the ancient world include Art and the Romans; The Conflict of Generations in Ancient Greece and Rome; Doorways Through Time: The Romance of Archaeology; and The Healing Power of Ancient Literature. In addition, his speeches on ancient values and modern issues have been frequently reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day.
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    "The poems are well chosen, the translations are usually excellent and engaging, and the blurbs on each poem are enlightening and interesting."
    Molly Levine, Professor, Department of Classics, Howard University

    "Bertman's Erotic Love Poems of Greece and Rome is an exciting new volume for use in culture classes. It contains vivid, readable, accurate translations of everything you would expect plus a range of materials not covered in other similar volumes."
    E. Del Chrol, Program Director for Classics, Marshall University

    “Capturing in pellucid English the classically decorous envy, jealousy, desire, and passion of the Greek and Roman poets, Stephen Bertman escorts us across the millennia to witness their bliss and—of course—their heartache. The translator’s restrained and insightful observations on the verse always enlighten, even as they combine empathy and sober detachment.”
    Dr. James Arieti, Thompson Professor of Classics, Hampden-Sydney College

    "Steve Bertman has always possessed an extraordinary ability to infuse new life into the study of classical antiquity. He has done it again with this collection of love poetry from Homer to an anonymous poem on the coming of spring, dated to the third or fourth century A.D. He has provided fluent, delightful translations of the poems, preserving the diverse metrical schemes of the originals, no mean feat indeed."
    Charles E. Fantazzi, Thomas Harriot Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of Classics and Great Books, East Carolina University

    "In this lyrically and sensitively curated selection, Bertman provides just the right guidance to instill appreciation for the cultural, historical, and artistic settings of these engagingly translated gems of classical erotic literature."
    Georgia Irby, Professor and Chair, Department of Classical Studies, The College of William and Mary