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Sunday, 27 November 2016



Ovid was born in Sulmo (modern Sulmona), in an Apennine valley 90 miles east of Rome, to a wealthy family, on March 20, 43 BC.

A statue of Ovid by Ettore Ferrari in the Piazza XX Settembre, Sulmona, Italy. Wikipedia

Ovid's full name was Publius Ovidius Naso. The cognomen Naso means "the one with the nose" (i.e. "Big nose") in Latin. Ovid habitually referred to himself by his nickname.

Ovid was educated in rhetoric toward the practice of law in Rome under the teachers Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro with his brother who excelled at oratory.

After the death of his brother at 20 years of age, Ovid renounced law and began travelling to Athens, Asia Minor, and Sicily.

He held minor public posts, as a member of the Centumviral (chancery) court and as one of the decemviri litibus iudicandis ("the ten men who judge lawsuits") but resigned to pursue poetry probably around 29–25 BC.


Ovid was a poetical writer of "The art of love" which had a cumulative effect upon the gay young people of Rome.

By Photo: Georges Jansoone (JoJan)Artwork:Luca Signorelli (1450–1523) Wikipedia

His Ars Amatoria (Art of Love) is a guide to seduction. The first two books of the three book series advise how men may win and retain a woman, the third how women may win and retain a man.

His Metamorphoses were a 15 book of continuous mythical stories concerning miraculous transformations, written in the meter of epic. They were penned about 1 AD to 8 AD.

Metamorphoses starts with the formation of the worlds and ends in praise of the emperor Augustus and Ovid's belief that his poem has earned him immortality.

The theory behind his work was the decline of man from an early golden age to the corrupt age of his time.

From his own time until the end of Antiquity Ovid was among the most widely read and imitated of Latin poets; his greatest work, the Metamorphoses, also seems to have enjoyed the largest popularity.

Ovid was the most widely read classical author in medieval times and the Renaissance. He was at the peak of his in popularity in the 12th and 13th century.

The first major literary work in America was George Sandys' 1626 translation of Metamorphoses.

Engraved frontispiece of George Sandys’s 1632 London edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses Englished.


Ovid had three wives, the first of whom he married when little more than a boy. He was divorced twice by the time he was thirty years old. His last wife was connected in some way to the influential gens Fabia and would help him during his exile in Tomis.

Ovid had one daughter, who eventually bore him grandchildren.

Ovid rejected carnivorism and was repulsed by those who ate the animals entrusted to their care. He wrote in Metamorphosis. "And so in the midst of the wealth of food which Earth, the best of mothers has produced. It is your pleasure to chew the piteous flesh of slaughtered animals."

He enjoyed music. Ovid wrote in Remedia Amoris: "The music of the zither, flute and the lyre enervates the mind."


Augustus regarded Ovid as the corrupter of Rome. He was banished to the Barbaric town of Tomis by Augustus near the mouth of the Danube on the Black Sea. Tomis was then located in Scythia and is now the town of Constanza in south east Romania.

It unclear why Augustus exiled Ovid. Reasons suggested are some connection with Julia, daughter of Augustus or the eroticism of his verses.

During his eight years in exile, Ovid suffered at the hands of the Barbarians, the severe weather separation from his family and boredom.  He was never able to return to Rome.

Eugene Delacroix, Ovid among the Scythians, 1859. 

Ovid died in exile in 17AD in Tomis. His epitaph was "Many excelled me! I know it yet I am quoted as much as they."

Ovid's last line in Metamorphoses was: "But through this work, I will live on and lift myself high above the stars. And my name will be indestructible."

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