Nimium amator ingenii sui

From a letter of Laurence Sterne’s of Jan 1, 1760, responding to an unknown addressee’s cautionary remarks about Tristram Shandy.  There are three significantly enough different versions of this letter that the editors of the Florida Edition printed them separately, numbering each 35A, B, and C.  I’m pulling from A.

I know not whether I am entirely free <of> [from?] the fault Ovid is so justly censured for – of being nimum ingenij sui amator.  the hint however is right – to sport too much with a Man’s own wit is surfeiting: like toying with a man’s mistress, it may be delightful enough to the Inamorato but of little or no entertainment to By-standers.   in general I have ever endeavour’d to avoid it, by leaving off as soon as possible whenever a point of humour or Wit was started, for fear of saying too much…

The criticism of Ovid is from Quintilian 10.1.88:

Lascivus quidem in herois quoque Ovidius et nimium amator ingenii sui, laudandus tamen partibus…

Indeed Ovid is too sportive/playful/roguish/badin [lascivus] even in his heroes and too great a lover of his own talent/temperament – but nevertheless he must be praised in certain areas…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s