The Conquest of the Rose A Virgilian ‘Art of Love’?
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This chapter examines the questions raised by a series of Virgilian citations. Bracketing the final battle for the Rose, the tales of Adonis, Pygmalion and Mirra, and the discourses of Nature and Genius, are allusions to both the Aeneid and the Eclogues. The inner frame of Eclogue citations first raises the troubling spectre of feminine betrayal, but then defuses that danger with the affirmation of love triumphant. The Virgilian presence implies a critique of the Lover's sensuality and grandiosity, but one that is resisted by the Ovidian tenor of the poem. Even some of the allusions to Virgil or his writings turn out, on closer examination, to be Ovidian citations. The analogy with Hercules may seem to provide a reassuring answer to Genius's Virgilian warnings: the Lover has no fear of beasts or serpents, for he can overcome them all.