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INDEX OF SELECTIONS.
13. The Contest for the Arms of Achilles (Met. XII. 612
-XIII. 398). ..............
11. The Remedies of Love and the Pleasures of Life (Rem.
PUBLIUS OVIDIUS Naso was born at Sulmo, now Sulmona, a small town ninety Roman miles east of Rome in the well-watered, hilly district of the Paeligni.
The date of his birth is March 20, 43 B.C. IIe had a brother of great promise, exactly a year older than himself, but he died in his twenty-first year.
Ovid's father belonged to an ancient equestrian family, and was possessed of considerable property. Though economical and money-loving, he was ambitious for his sons, and decided to give them the best education that the world afforded. . To this end he moved to Rome while they were quite young, and put them under the best masters there.
Education in those days was largely rhetorical and legal, preparatory to civil preferment. Ovid's father wished to make a lawyer out of him ; but the boy, unlike his brother, developed no especial fondness for his intended calling, although he showed talent in the schools and his writings show strong traces of rhetorical training.
To please his father, Ovid continued these distasteful studies for some time. He afterwards studied in Athens, as was the fashion in those days, travelled in Asia Minor, and spent some time in Sicily, visiting famous scenes and laying up information which was to be useful to him in future years. He returned to Rome, and held several minor judicial positions before he gave up the career to which his father destined him.
From his earliest youth he had been strongly attracted by the Muses, and now the success of some early love-poems fired his genius and changed his life. Henceforth he devoted himself to poetry and a life of literary ease. Such a life he loved above all others, and fortunately his circumstances were such that he was able to indulge himself. The greater part of his life was passed under exceptionally happy circumstances. The conscious production of immortal works must in itself have been the source of great satisfaction to the author. Besides this, Ovid had friends and congenial companions among the poets and other prominent men of Rome.
After two unhappy marriages, Ovid found in his third wife a companion upon whom he bestowed great praise in his poems. He had a daughter, it is uncertain by which wife.
When the poet was fifty years old and his hair was well sprinkled with gray, suddenly there came upon him, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, a decree from the hand of Augustus banishing him to the town of Tomi, on the Black Sea, near the mouth of the Danube. The cause of this decree is not known. Ovid everywhere says that his fault or mistake did not amount to a crime.
Ovid took a sorrowful farewell of his friends and family and of the city which he loved so well. After a long and tedious journey he arrived at his destination, the home of the barbarous Getae. There, amid very uncongenial surroundings, he passed the remaining years of his life; and there he died, unpardoned, in the year 17 A.D. (according to some, 18 A.D.), at the age of fifty-nine (or sixty).
Ovid's chief works were as follows :
1. Amores, three books of short poems on various subjects, but mainly love-poems addressed to Corinna, the fictitious name of Ovid's mistress.
2. Heroides, twenty-one epistles, mainly imaginary loveletters from famous women of the heroic age to their absent husbands or lovers.
3. Ars Amatoria, in three books, in form didactic, conveying instructions to men and women how to gain the affections of the opposite sex.