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Ecquid, ut inspecta est studiosæ litera dextræ,
Protinus est oculis cognita nostra tuis ? An, nisi legisses auctoris nomina Sapphus,
Hoc breve nescires unde movetur opus? Forsitan et quare mea sint alterna requiras
Carmina, cum lyricis sim magis apta modis.
* Ovid seems to have had the merit of inventing this beautiful species of writing epistles under feigned names. Though indeed Propertius has one composition of this sort, an Epistle of Arethusa to Lycortas, B. iv. Eleg. 3. It is a high improvement on the Greek Elegy, to which its dramatic form renders it much superior. The judgment of the writer must chiefly appear, by opening the complaint of the person introduced, just at such a period of time, as will give occasion for the most tender sentiments, and the most sudden and violent turns of passion to be displayed. Ovid may perhaps be blamed for a sameness of subjects, in these epistles of his heroines ; and his epistles are likewise too long; which circumstance has forced him into a repetition and languor in the sentiments. It would be a pleasing task, and conduce to the formation of a good taste, to shew how differently Ovid and the Greek Tragedians have made Medea, Phædra, and Deinaira, speak on the very same occasions. Such a comparison would abundantly manifest the fancy and wit of Ovid, and the judgment and nature of Euripides and Sophocles. If the character of Medea was not better supported in the Tra
Ver. 2. The force of Protinus is lost in the translation.