Fun Facts Friday: Ovid

March 20, 2020

Ovid (20 March, 43 BC – 1718 AD) was a Roman poet who is ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, along with his contemporaries Horace and Virgil.

Fun Facts Friday: Ovid
Books by Ovid*

  1. The poet is known as Ovid in the English speaking world, his Latin name is Publius Ovidius Naso.
  2. Because Ovid wrote many poems about his own life, we know more about him than other Roman poets.
  3. A tragedy that Ovid wrote about Madea, a sorceress who killed her own children, was thought at the time to be one of his finest works.
    The work did not survive, we only know about it because of praises others wrote.
  4. Ovid is thought to be the originator of dramatic monologue, “a poem in the form of a speech or narrative by an imagined person, in which the speaker inadvertently reveals aspects of their character while describing a particular situation or series of events.”
    His work Heroides, Ovid writes in the voice of numerous heroines from Roman legends; at the time this was a very innovative technique.
  5. William Shakespeare was a huge fan of Ovid, and even called him his favorite poet. This is especially true to Metamorphoses, Ovid’s magnum opus.
  6. In 8 AD, Emperor Augustus was worried about the rise of loose morals in Rome, cheating spouses and extramarital sex. This when Ovid published his poem The Art of Love (Ars Amatoria), bad timing to say the least. Along with some indiscretion Ovid has committed, which has been lost to history, it was enough to banish the poet from Rome. At the time Ovid was 50 years old, and the most famous poet of his time.
  7. Augustus was solely responsible for the exile of Ovid, the Senate nor any judge had anything to do with it. Ovid wrote that his exile was due to a “a poem and a mistake”, that he did nothing illegal, but just a stupid mistake and without premeditation. He also said that Emperor Augustus must have realized that this was not in malice because he did not put him to death, or strip him of his Roman citizenship, or confiscated his possessions.
  8. Ovid went to leave at the edge of the Roman Empire, by the Black Sea in Tomis (now Constanţa, Romania). As inventive as ever he learned the Getic language and wrote a poem to prize Augustus in that language.
    That poem has not survived time, it probably would have been the only record of the Getic language.
  9. Cervantes used Metamorphoses as an inspiration to Don Quixote.
  10. In recent years Ovid’s exile poems have seen a resurgence among scholars. Critical opinion, however, remains divided on quality and intended audience.

Books by Ovid*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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Fun Facts Friday: Ovid
Ovid was a Roman poet who is ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, along with his contemporaries Horace and Virgil.
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