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Ovid(Publius Ovidius Naso) (ŏv`ĭd), 43 B.C.–A.D. 18, Latin poet, b. Sulmo (present-day Sulmona), in the Apennines. Although trained for the law, he preferred the company of the literary coterie at Rome. He enjoyed early and widespread fame as a poet and was known to the emperor Augustus. In A.D. 8, for no known reason, he was abruptly exiled to Tomis, a Black Sea outpost, S of the Danube, where he later died. The poems of Ovid fall into three groups—erotic poems, mythological poems, and poems of exile. His verse, with the exception of the Metamorphoses and a fragment (Halieutica), is in elegiacs, which are of unmatched perfection. The love poems include Amores [loves], 49 short poems, many of which extol the charms of the poet's mistress Corinna, probably a synthesis of several women; Epistulae heroidum [letters from heroines], an imaginary series written by ancient heroines to their absent lovers; Ars amatoria [art of love], didactic, in three books, with complete instructions on how to acquire and keep a lover. In the mythological category is the Metamorphoses, a masterpiece and perhaps Ovid's greatest work. Written in hexameters, it is a collection of myths concerned with miraculous transformations linked together with such consummate skill that the whole is artistically harmonious. The Fasti, also a mythological poem, contains six books on the days of the year from January to June, giving the myths, legends, and notable events called to mind on each day. As a source for religious antiquities, it is especially valuable. The poems of exile include Tristia [sorrows], five books of short poems, conveying the poet's despair in his first five years of exile and his supplications for mercy, and the Epistulae ex Ponto [letters from the Black Sea], in four books, addressed to friends in Rome, showing somewhat abated poetic power. Ovid wrote poetry to give pleasure; no other Latin poet wrote so naturally in verse or with such sustained wit. Unsurpassed as a storyteller, he also related the complexities of romantic involvements with verve and deft characterization. A major influence in European literature, Ovid was also a primary source of inspiration for the artists of the Renaissance and the baroque. The Metamorphoses was translated during this period by A. Golding (1567), George Sandys (1632), and John Dryden (1700).
See modern verse translations by R. Humphries (1955, 1958), L. R. Lind (1975), and A. D. Melville (1989); studies by L. P. Wilkinson (1955, 1962), H. F. Fränkel (1945, repr. 1969), B. Otis (1966, repr. 1971), J. W. Binns, ed. (1973), R. Syme (1978), D. R. Slavitt (1990).
(Publius Ovidius Naso). Born 43 B.C.; died circa A.D. 18. Roman poet.
Writing individualistic, primarily erotic, poetry, Ovid in his early narrative poems Ars Amatoria (Art of Love) and Remedia Amoris (Remedies of Love) instructs the reader in amorous relations and describes scenes from Roman life. His poem Metamorphoses (Russian translation, 1874–76) marked a transition to large-scale works in the spirit of Hellenistic “learned” poetry. Conceived as an epic, it contains about 250 mythological and folkloric tales about the transformation of people into animals, plants, constellations, and even into stones. His last works were the Tristia (Sorrows) and the Epistulae ex Ponto (Pontic Epistles).
At the end of A.D. 8, Ovid was exiled by Augustus to Tomis (now the port of Constanţa in Rumania), where he died. During his exile, he created a new genre of Roman poetry—the subjective elegy, devoid of any amatory theme. Ovid was highly esteemed by A. S. Pushkin, whose interest in the exiled poet was expressed in the verses “In the Land Where He Was Crowned by Julia” and “To Ovid” and in the narrative poem The Gypsies.
WORKSOpera, vols. 1–3. Edited by R. Ehwald and V. Levy. Leipzig, 1915–32.
Carmina selecta. Moscow, 1946.
In Russian translation:
Ballady-poslaniia. Moscow, 1913.
Metamorfozy. (Introductory article by A. Beletskii.) [Moscow] 1937.
Liubovnye elegii. (Introduced and translated by S. Shervinskii.) Moscow, 1963.
Elegii i malye poemy. Moscow, 1973.
REFERENCESTronskii, I. M. Istoriia antichnoi literatury, 3rd ed. Leningrad, 1957.
Istoriia rimskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.
Fräncel, H. Ovid: A Poet Between Two Worlds. Berkeley, Calif., 1945.
Paratore, E. Bibliografia Ovidiana. Sulmona. 1958.
K. P. POLONSKAIA
Ovid (43 B.C.E.–17 C.E.) was a postclassical poet of the Roman Empire. He is renowned for his ability to meld the reality of the waking world with dream-like elements in his prose and poetry. Depending on the source, scholars refer to Ovid as being either the last of the poets of the golden age, or the first of the poets of the silver age. He was banished to the city of Tomis in 11 C.E. for unknown reasons.
In a letter written during his exile, he described the agony that refused to leave him, even while asleep, and the suppressed wishes that made themselves known in his nightmares. In his great work Metamorphoses, he devotes a section to the description of the “Dream of Erysichthon.” Erysichthon is cursed, doomed to starve no matter what he eats or how much. In the end, it causes him to devour the entire world, and this is followed by the rendering of his own flesh. Ovid compares Erysichthon to Fames, who is a living corpse surviving on a minimal diet. The incorporation of these nightmarish elements in Ovid’s morose poetry exemplifies the irony that characterizes these events.