Ovid in Roman Biography
Ov'id, [Lat. Ovid'iiis; It. Ovidio, o-vee'de-o ; Fr.
Ovidk, o'ved',] or, more fully, Pub'lius Ovid'ius
Na'so, a popular Roman poet, was born at Sulmo,
(Sulmona,) about ninety miles east of Rome, in 43 B.C.
He studied rhetoric in Rome under Arellius Fuscus and
l'orcius Latro, and made himself master of Greek at
Athens. His poetical genius was manifested in early
youth, and afterwards diverted him from the practice of
law, which, in compliance with his father's will, he began
to study. He held, however, several civil or judicial
offices at Rome, and became one of the Decemviri. He
sought and obtained the acquaintance of Propertius,
Horace, Macer, and other poets. He also enjoyed for a
time the favour of the emperor Augustus. Among his
earliest productions were three books of "Amores."
Before the age of fifty he had published "The Art of
Love," (" Ars Amatoria,")
" Medea," a tragedy, and
" Heroic Epistles," (" Ileroides.") He had also nearly
finished his celebrated "Metamorphoses," ("Metamorphoseon
Libri XV.,") wiiich display great poetical
genius. In the year 8 A.D. he was suddenly banished
by Augustus to Tomi, on the Euxine, near the mouth
of the Danube. The reason assigned for this penal
measure was the publication of his immodest poem
"The Art of Love ;" but this is believed to have lieen
a mere pretext, as that poem was published about ten
years earlier. Ovid in his later writings alludes to some
offence which he mysteriously conceals, and for which
he admitted that he deserved to suffer. This question
appears to have baffled the ingenuity and curiosity of
scholars. He has been censured for the abject terms
in which he petitioned Augustus for a pardon, which
was inexorably refused. He died at Tomi in 18 A.D.,
which was also the year of Livy's death. His " Medea,"
which some ancient critics esteemed his most
perfect work, is lost. During his exile lie wrote, besides
other minor poems, "Twelve Books of Fasti," ("Fastorum
Libri XII.,") six of which have come down to us.
This is a poetical Roman calendar, and has historical
value as well as literary merit. Ovid was thrice married,
and divorced his first wife and his second. He also loved
and courted a woman of high rank, whom he celebrated
under the fictitious name of Corinna. Some writers
suppose she was Julia the daughter, or Julia the
of the emperor Augustus. The best English
translation of Ovid is
" Ovid's Metamorphoses, in Fifteen
Books, translated by the Most Kminent Hands," London,
1717. Among these translators were Dryden, Addison,
Congreve, and Garth.
See Masson, "Vita P. Ovidii Nasonis," 1708; C. Rosmini,
"Vitadi Publio Ovidio Naso," 1789; Vk.lknavk, "Vie d'Ovide,"
Paris, 1809; Bavle,
" Historical and Critical Dictionary.**