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Facts about Ovid

Ovid

was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid.

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During this time Ovid would count among his friends Tibullus, Horace, and Sextus Propertius.

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The Heriodes in many ways foreshadows the psychological nuance found in the soliloquies of Shakespeare, who considered Ovid to be one of his favorite poets.

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The first example of this is Ovid's early poem, the Heriodes ("Heroines"), which, borrowing an idea from Propertius, consists of a series of letters written by heroines of various myths and legends.

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The letters are really dramatic monologues, in which Ovid applied the lessons learned in his training in rhetoric, particularly the technique of ethopoiea ("character drawing"), to brilliant effect.

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Ovid himself makes clear that his error was not a scelus — that is, it was an indiscretion, not a crime.

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Emperor Augustus, for reasons that are still unknown, banished Ovid to Tomis in modern Romania, on the Black Sea.

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Publius Ovidius Naso (b. Sulmona, March 20, 43 B.C.E.

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Little is known for certain about Ovid's life.

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Ovid stands out not only for his gifts as a storyteller and poet in his own right, but as one of the most important sources we have to the literature of the ancient world.

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Ovid offers poetry unlike those of his predecessors, incorporating many myths and legends about supernatural transformations from the Greek and Roman traditions, but with a three-dimensionality of character never seen before.

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The most common speculation regarding the error is that Ovid was involuntarily involved as an accomplice in the adultery of Augustus' granddaughter, Julia, who was banished at the same time.

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Banished far from Rome, Ovid had no chance to research in libraries and thus was forced to abandon his work, Fasti.

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By the time Ovid had begun the composition of the Metamorphoses, Virgil's Aeneid had already been canonized as the national epic of Rome.

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Ovid was the first poet to demonstrate that the somewhat rigid Latin language could be adapted to dactylic Greek meters.

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After Ovid, the elegiac couplet and dactylic hexameter would become widely popular modes of poetic writing.

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Most of what we know comes from Ovid's autobiographical poem, the Tristia.

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Ovid was born in the small town of Sulmo, a village about 90 miles east of Rome.

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Ovid's father sent him to Athens after his graduation, and, after traveling elsewhere through the Mediterranean, he began work as a minor public official.

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No one poet did more than Ovid to transmit the riches of the Greek imagination to posterity.

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The obvious themes of these early poems are love and romantic intrigue, but it is unlikely that Ovid himself was a particularly intriguing or romantic figure.

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Ovid is generally considered the greatest master of the elegiac couplet, and, of the great Latin poets, is considered to have the most psychological complexity and depth.

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See the website "Ovid illustrated: the Renaissance reception of Ovid in image and Text" for many more Renaissance examples.

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After nine years of plaintive exile, Ovid died in Tomis at the age of 60.

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Ovid himself wrote that he was banished for an error and a carmen — a mistake and a poem.

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Following the success of these early poems, Ovid would become a member of Rome's elite circle of poets and socialites.

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The rather stiff and antiquated figures of Greek legends are infused with a dynamism and subtlety of conscience never before seen, and entirely unique to Ovid.