Publius Ovidius Naso, (March 20, 43 BC – AD 17) Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. R. J. Tarrant offers the following assessment for the importance of Ovid:

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. What place Ovid may have had in the curriculum of ancient schools is hard to determine: no body of antique scholia survives for any of his works, but it seems likely that the elegance of his style and his command of rhetorical technique would have commended him as a school author, perhaps at the elementary level.1

Ovid wrote in elegiac couplets, with the exception of his great Metamorphoses, which he wrote in dactylic hexameter in imitation of Vergil's Aeneid and Homer's epics. Ovid does not offer an epic narrative like his predecessors but promises a chronological account of the cosmos from creation to his own day, incorporating many myths and legends from the Greek and Roman traditions.

Augustus banished Ovid in AD 8 to Tomis on the Black Sea for reasons that remain mysterious (Ovid himself wrote that it was because of an error and a carmen – a mistake and a poem). He may have had an affair with a female relative of Augustus, and the carmen mentioned by Ovid may be his supposedly immoral Ars Amatoria, which had been in circulation for several years.

It was during this exile that Ovid wrote a series of poems, called Tristia, which illustrate his sadness and desolation away from Rome. Even though he was friendly with the natives of Tomis, he still pined for Rome and his beloved third wife. Many of the poems are addressed to her, but also to Augustus, whom he calls Caesar and sometimes God, to himself, and even sometimes to the poems themselves, which expresses his heart-felt solitude. The famous first two lines of the Tristia ...

Parve -- nec invideo -- sine me, liber, ibis in urbem:
ei mihi, quod domino non licet ire tuo!

can be translated as ...

Little one -- and I won't hinder you -- without me, book, you will go to the City:
Alas for me, because, for your master, it is illegal to go!

Ovid would eventually die in exile.


Existing and generally considered authentic, with approximate dates of publication

(10 BC) Amores ('The Loves'), 5 books, about "Corinna", anti-marriage (revised into 3 books c. AD 1)
(5 BC) Heroides ('The Heroines') or Epistulae Heroidum ('Letters of Heroines'), 21 letters (letters 16–21 were composed around AD 4 - 8)
(5 BC) Remedium Amoris ('The Cure for Love'), 1 book
(5 BC) Medicamina Faciei Femineae ('Women's Facial Cosmetics' or 'The Art of Beauty'), 100 lines surviving
(2 BC) Ars Amatoria ('The Art of Love'), 3 books (the third written somewhat later)
(AD 8) Metamorphoses ('Transformations'), 15 books
(9) Ibis, a single poem
(10) Tristia ('Sorrows'), 5 books
(10) Epistulae ex Ponto ('Letters from the Black Sea'), 4 books
(12) Fasti ('Festivals'), 6 books surviving which cover the first 6 months of the year and provide unique information on the Roman calendar

Lost or generally considered spurious

Medea, a lost tragedy about Medea
a poem in Getic, the language of Dacia where Ovid was exiled, not extant (and possibly fictional)
Nux ('The Walnut Tree')
Consolatio ad Liviam ('Consolation to Livia')
Haleutica ('On Fishing') - generally considered spurious, a poem that some have identified with the otherwise lost poem of the same name written by Ovid.

Works inspired by Ovid

(1994): After Ovid: New Metamorphoses edited by Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun is an anthology of contemporary poetry reenvisioning Ovid's Metamorphoses

(1997): Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes is a modern poetic translation of twenty four passages from Metamorphoses

(2002) An adaptation of Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman appeared on Broadway's Circle on the Square Theater, which featured an onstage pool [1] (


R. J. Tarrant, "Ovid" in Texts and Transmission: A Survery of the Latin Clasics (Oxford, 1983), p. 257.

External links

University of Virginia, "Ovid Illustrated: The Renaissance Reception of Ovid in Image and Text" (

Latin and English translation

Perseus/Tufts: P. Ovidius Naso ( Amores, Ars Amatoria, Heroides (on this site called Epistulae), Metamorphoses, Remedia Amoris. Enhanced brower. Not downloadable.

Sacred Texts Archive: Ovid ( Amores, Ars Amatoria, Medicamina Faciei Femineae, Metamorphoses, Remedia Amoris.

The Metamorphoses of Publius Ovidius Naso (; elucidated by an analysis and explanation of the fables, together with English notes, historical, mythological and critical, and illustrated by pictorial embellishments: with a dictionary, giving the meaning of all the words with critical exactness. By Nathan Covington Brooks. Publisher: New York, A. S. Barnes & co.; Cincinnati, H. W. Derby & co., 1857

Original Latin only

Latin Library: Ovid ( Amores, Ars Amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto, Fasti, Heroides, Ibis, Metamorphoses, Remedia Amoris, Tristia.

Gutenberg Project: Fasti ( With introduction and extensive notes in English by Thomas Keightley. Plain text version.

English translation only

New translations by A. S. Kline ( Amores, Ars Amatoria, Epistulae ex Ponto, Fasti, Heroides, Ibis, Medicamina Faciei Femineae, Metamorphoses, Remedia Amoris, Tristia with enhanced browsing facility, downloadable in HTML, PDF, or MS Word DOC formats.


Perseus/Tufts: Commentary on the Heroides of Ovid (;layout=;loc=1.1;query=toc)

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