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About this poet

On March 20, 43 BC, Publius Ovidius Naso, better known to modern readers as Ovid, was born at Sulmo, 90 miles from Rome. Ovid's father, who was a respected member of the equestrian order, expected Ovid to become a lawyer and official and had him schooled extensively for that purpose. After working in various judicial posts, Ovid made the decision to dedicate himself to a life of poetry instead. Ovid's elegance, both in verse and comportment, made him a favorite among the moneyed class of Rome, and it was not long before Ovid was widely hailed as the most brilliant poet of his generation. His elegant verses on love appealed to a society being forced into a period of moral reformation by the emperor, Augustus. It may have been these same poems, namely those of his The Art of Love (3 BC), that caused Ovid to be exiled to the barren region of Tomi in AD 8.

The reason for Ovid's exile by Augustus is unknown. What is certain is that in AD 8 Ovid was sent to the bleak fishing-village of Tomi for what he describes as "a poem and a mistake", Ovid attempted on numerous occasions to find his way back into the good graces of Augustus, writing poems to the emperor and other influential friends. The poems, which were far less polished and elegant than his previous works, had little affect on Augustus, and Ovid remained in exile until his death in AD 17.

Ovid's poetic influence continued long after his death. His most famous work, The Metamorphoses (AD 8), had a great influence upon writers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the 12th century was named the Ovidian age for the numerous poets writing in Ovidian hexameter.

Elegy 5

Ovid
In summer's heat, and mid-time of the day,
To rest my limbs upon a bed I lay;
One window shut, the other open stood,
Which gave such light as twinkles in a wood,
Like twilight glimpse at setting of the sun,
Or night being past, and yet not day begun.
Such light to shamefaced maidens must be shown,
Where they may sport, and seem to be unknown.
Then came Corinna in a long loose gown,
Her white neck hid with tresses hanging down,       
Resembling fair Semiramis going to bed
Or Lais of a thousand wooers sped.
I snatched her gown: being thin, the harm was small,
Yet strived she to be covered there withal.
And striving thus, as one that would be cast,
Betrayed herself, and yielded at the last.
Stark naked as she stood before mine eye,
Not one wen in her body could I spy.
What arms and shoulders did I touch and see!
How apt her breasts were to be pressed by me!            
How smooth a belly under her waist saw I,
How large a leg, and what a lusty thigh!
To leave the rest, all liked me passing well,
I clinged her naked body, down she fell:
Judge you the rest; being tired she bade me kiss;
Jove send me more such afternoons as this!

Translation by Christopher Marlowe.  This poem is in the public domain.

Translation by Christopher Marlowe.  This poem is in the public domain.

Ovid

Ovid

Born on March 20, 43 BC, Ovid's poetic influence had a great impact on the writers of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

by this poet

poem
So it was my destiny to travel  as far as Scythia,
    that land lying below the northern pole,
and neither you, Muses, nor you, Leto’s son Apollo,
    cultured crowd though you are, gave any help
to your own priest: the fact that my poetry’s more wanton
    than my life, that my fun is free of real offence
does
poem
Baucis and Philemon

THUS Achelous ends: his audience hear
With admiration, and admiring, fear
The pow'rs of heav'n; except Ixion's son,
Who laugh'd at all the gods, believ'd in none:
He shook his impious head, and thus replies,
"These legends are no more than pious lies:
You attribute too much to