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  Publius Ovidius Naso was born on March 20, 43 B.C.E., almost exactly one year after the murder of Julius Caesar, in Sulmo, a region about 90 miles from Rome, which Ovid describes as "abounding in cool water." Sulmo was a small town, and was isolated by the surrounding terrain and its economic insignificance. As a result, it largely escaped the turmoil in Italy during the 30s B.C.E. Ovid had talent and his father had ambitions for him. He sent him and his older brother to Rome in about 30 B.C.E. to acquire formal training to launch their careers as politicians and lawyers. His older brother quickly embraced public life, but Ovid preferred the pursuit of poetry, despite the wishes of his father. Ovid even claimed that on at least one occasion, the prose he was attempting to write became verse of its own accord!
Ovid among the Scythians
  After completing his education in Greece and Asia, Ovid held a few minor political offices in the mid 20s, but eventually decided that he lacked the physical strength to be a politician. Instead, he continued his pursuit of poetry and consorted with poets such as Propertius, Vergil, Horace, and Tibullus. Ovid's first well-known work, the Medea, which is now lost entirely, was much praised by ancient critics.
Ovid among the Scythians   His father arranged a marriage for Ovid while he was still young, but this, like his second marriage, ended in divorce. He achieved much more satisfaction (as well as some important contacts) from his third marriage to a widow from a noble family.
  Ovid produced many works in this time period. His poetry is punctuated by flashes of brilliant virtuosity, and clever playfulness of spirit. His Amores, following in the footsteps of Propertius, was published as five books of love poetry, and was later revised and reorganized into three books, all of which are extant. His Epistulae are love letters in elegiac meter written by mythological heroines who try to regain the attention of the men who have abandoned them. His Ars Amatoria, "Art of Love," is a two-book work of advice for men on love. Later, a third book was added for women. His Fasti, a calendar of important days in Rome, was intended to have twelve books, one for each month, but has come down to us in half-finished form in six books.
  The Metamorphoses is Ovid's most famous work. Composed in hexameter, the Metamorphoses is a collection of Greek and Roman myths about transformations. Ovid was nearly finished writing it when, in 9 C.E., he was banished by the Emperor Augustus for unknown reasons -- but it may have been simply that he was too much of a smart aleck. In despair, Ovid threw his original manuscript of the Metamorphoses into flames, but the work was later rewritten from other copies.
  In the winter of 10-11 C.E., Ovid reached his place of banishment. He was unable to finish his Fasti in exile, but he wrote his Tristia, poems of lamentation. He also wrote his Epistulae ex Ponto, "Letters from the Sea", while in exile. Ovid also wrote the Ibis, an angry poem cursing his enemies and false friends, and is said to have written some prose, but that is lost.
  Ovid likely died in 17 or 18 C.E., although no contemporary writer mentions Ovid's death or even his exile.
  Wilkinson, L. P. Ovid Recalled. Cambridge University Press, 1955.
  Anderson, William S. Ovid: The Classical Heritage. Garland Publishing, Inc. 1995.
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