Volume 71, Issue 1, Winter 2019
Screwtape’s Remedy for Love: C. S. Lewis and Ovid
In the Ars Amatoria Ovid claims to make his audience experts in love; in the Remedia Amoris he teaches them how to fall out of love. These two poems are masterpieces of satirical comedy. At first glance Ovidian satire seems worlds apart from The Screwtape Letters of C.S. Lewis. While written for entirely different aims and differing in many obvious aspects, both works describe the surest means by which to suffocate love. For Ovid, it is romantic love that must be extinguished; for Screwtape, it is the love of God. While it might seem that the irony of The Screwtape Letters is distinctively modern, Lewis’s special form of irony finds its ancient precedent and model in the master of mock-didacticism, Ovid. Not only can the influence of Ovid’s Remedia Amoris be seen in the broad themes contained in The Screwtape Letters, but many of Screwtape’s specific avenues of attack were recommended by Ovid centuries ago.