Sexual and political liberty and neo-Latin poetics: the Heroides of Mark Alexander Boyd
This article examines responses to the Heroides by the Scottish neo-Latin poet Mark Alexander Boyd, composed whilst in ‘exile’ in France during the 1580s and early 1590s. Boyd’s engagements reflect the priorities of contemporary humanist interpretations of the Heroides , on the one hand positioning Ovid’s poems as models for elegant Latin verse composition, and on the other reading them as guides to female sexual (mis)conduct. Such an approach tended to reinforce Renaissance prejudices about sex and gender, as Boyd’s efforts amply reveal. Yet the exorbitance of female love elegy also permitted a limited critique of such norms, and this is demonstrated in Boyd’s second set of responses, the Heroides et Hymni (1592), which suggestively collocate his personal political difficulties with women’s sexual freedom.
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Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 351-367