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Ovid

Ovid

Ovid was a profusely talented Roman author who achieved recognition for his numerous contributions to literature. He is also credited to have influenced future literature masterpieces’ of many great authors including the likes of Shakespeare himself.

Ovid was renowned for a large number of his works. Ovid authored numerous small pieces; the Remedia Amoris, the Medicamina Faciei Femineae, and the long curse-poem Ibis (Ovid). Ovid was also the author of a lost tragedy, Medea. However, it was undoubtedly his three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroids, Amores and Ars Amatoria that were really celebrated. They were simply brilliant and inspired. He also earned fame as the author of the Metamorphoses; a mythological hexameter poem, which is believed to have inspired some of literature’s finest authors such as; Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dante, and Milton. He is also noted for; the Fasti, – detailing the Roman calendar; and the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto – two collections of poems written while exiled to the Black Sea.

Publius Ovidius Naso, (later to be known as Ovid), was born on March 20, 43 B.C. He was born in “Sulmo”, contemporary Sulmona, Italy in an Apennine valley east of Rome to a well to do equestrian family. He was educated in Rome in due to his father’s aspiration for Ovid and his brother to learn public speaking and politics. They studied rhetoric under the teachers Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro.

His father wished him to study rhetoric toward the path of law, though Ovid displayed a preference towards the more emotional side of rhetoric. After his brother’s death at 20 years of age, he took up travelling to Athens, Asia Minor, and Sicily. Subsequently he despondently held some negligible judicial posts – the initial step towards his father’s wish for him to become an official rhetoric. However, he soon decided against it, opting to delve into poetry around 29–25 BC, much to his father’s alleged disapproval Ovid had married three times and divorced twice, by age 30 and had one daughter. Little else is known of Ovid’s personal life.

His first recitation was around 25 BC, when Ovid was 18. Initially, Ovid wrote in the elegiac tradition of Roman poets Sextus Propertius and Albius Tibullus, both of whom he revered. Ovid’s Amores are erotic poems based on Corinna – an imaginary woman; detailing Ovid’s love for her. Ovid went on to write the Metamorphoses, in 15 books; famed as a manual of Greek mythology. His Fasti is a popular, calendar telling the different Roman festivals and the myths associated with each. Ovid’s works during his exile are infused with melancholy and sadness and mainly talk about his longing for his former life and appeals to be released.

In 8 AD, Ovid was exiled on the Black Sea, by Emperor Augustus for uncertain reasons that remain unexplained. According to Ovid, his exile was “Carmen et error” — a poem and a mistake. During this time, Ovid wrote two poems Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, depicting his grief. The five books of the elegiac Tristia, a chain of poems portraying the poet’s misery in exile and hoping for his return to Rome, are dated to 9–12 AD. The Ibis, an elegiac curse poem is also likely to be produced during this time. The exile poetry is moving and delicate. In the Epistulae he asserts that he has made friends with the natives of Tomis. However, he still yearned for Rome, his daughter and his third wife, as many of the poems are addressed to her.

Ovid died at Tomis in 17 AD. In 1930 that town was renamed “Ovidiu “in tribute to him. Seeing that Ovid spent the final years of his life and literary work in what is now Romania, Romanian nationalists have dubbed him “The First Romanian Poet” and positioned him in the pantheon of Romanian national heroes. Ovidiu is a common male first name in Romania. Also, a statue honors him in the Romanian city of Tomis (contemporary Constanța).

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