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Chapter 1 The Desire for Knowledge and the Knowledge of Desire: Models of Poetic Composition in the Roman de la Rose
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Guillaume de Lorris's characterization of his poem has led critics to see it as a medieval recasting of Ovid's Ars amatoria. In a famous scene at the beginning of the Amores, Ovid portrays himself starting out to write a 'serious' epic detailing the assault of the mythical giants on Mount Olympus. A torrent of love poetry follows, interrupted only briefly when the Tragic Muse endeavours to talk the poet into abandoning his folly and writing something more edifying. Jean will be imbued with love's teachings while still in the cradle; for him, the composition of love poetry will be primary, not a detour or deflection from some other discourse, some other body of knowledge. Ovid's very protestations serve only to highlight the mimetic response elicited in the readers of love poetry.