Chapter

Lætus & exilii conditione fruor<sup>1</sup>

Mandy Green

in Two Thousand Years of Solitude

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199603848
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731587 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603848.003.0005

Series: Classical Presences

Lætus & exilii conditione fruor1

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Milton’s early Latin elegies establish an enduring poetic association with Ovid. The first elegy of Milton’s Elegiarum liber primus—a verse letter to Charles Diodati, Milton’s best friend from school—provides an intriguing example of how the verse epistle (a genre developed by Ovid in exile) afforded Milton an imaginative freedom that he did not exercise when composing in English at this time.In this surprising poem, Milton imaginatively identifies his feelings of alienation at Cambridge University with Ovid’s isolation at Tomis, with intricate play on the notion of exilic locations.After the Restoration, Milton would indeed find himself like Ovid at Tomis, ‘fall’n on evil dayes | On evil dayes though fall’n’, and ‘with dangers compast round’ (PL VII.25–6; 27), but this time the place of his ‘exile’ would be, with a certain grim irony, the beloved city of his birth.

Keywords: exile; Milton; Elegiarum liber primus; alienation; Latin elegies; verse epistle

Chapter.  7387 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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