Marcia Karp wrote:
> Carrol Cox wrote:
> > This is what Johnson explores in his discussion of simile in the Life of
> > Pope.
> Thanks, Carrol, for the Johnson reference.
Incidentally, I can't remember just now the exact simile he quotes re
Apollo chasing some young woman as an illustration of a simile that is
poor because the two things compared are different enough, but I think
he misunderstood the example: Ovid wasn't saying she ran as fast as (a
rabbit or whatever); he was saying her emotion in being pursued was like
the emotion of the rabbit in being pursued by a predator. Again, an
_action_ and not merely a motion is being imitated. That doesn't affect
the cogency of Johnson's general argument -- but it perhaps is one
marker in literary history in the precipitate fall of Ovid's reputation
in the 18th century. He was perhaps the favorite poet (though of course
they would have said Virgil or Homer) of Milton, Dryden, and Pope.
Pope's friend Spence regarded Pope's liking for Ovid as curious (I
forget his exact word); less than a generation later, someone -- I think
Warton -- thought Pope's liking was simple bad taste. (All this learning
is from my quite distant past, before I turned my attention from Pope to
Milton; hence the vagueness.)
So by the time Johnson wrote the Life of Pope careful reading of Ovid
would (at least temporarily) have been a thing of the past.