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SELECTIONS FROM OVID
CHIEFLY THE METAMORPHOSES
J. H. AND W. F. ALLEN AND J. B. GREENOUGH
HAROLD N. FOWLER
WITH A SPECIAL VOCABULARY
JAMES B. GREENOUGH
GINN & COMPANY
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1890, by
J. H. AND W. F. Allen and J. B. GREENOUGH, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
THE LIFE OF OVID.
PUBLIUS OVIDIUS NASO was a fashionable poet at Rome in the reign of the Emperor Augustus, perhaps the most fashionable after the death of Virgil (B.C. 19) and Horace (B.C. 8).
All that is worth knowing about his life is told by himself in a pleasing poem (Trist. iv. 10), which is given as the last but one in the present collection. Like most of the literary men of Rome, he was not a native of that city,1 being born at Sulmo, in the country of the Peligni, about 90 miles from Rome. The year of his birth, B.C. 43, was that of Cicero's death. His father, a man of respectable fortune, removed to Rome to give his two boys a city education. Here the young poet was trained in the usual course of rhetoric and oratory, which he practised with fair success, going so far as to hold some subordinate political offices. His father was quite earnest to check his desire for a literary career. But the death of his elder brother left him with fortune enough for independence, and following his own strong bent Ovid became soon one of the favorite court poets of the brilliant era of Augustus. He was married three times, but was soon divorced from his first and second wives. The third, Fabia, remained faithful to him to the end. He had one daughter, who inherited something of his literary ability. After a career of great prosperity, he was
1 Virgil was a native of Mantua, Horace of Venusia, Catullus of Verona, Propertius of Umbria, Ovid of Sulmo, Cicero of Arpinum, Sallust of Amiternum, Livy of Patavium. Of eminent writers of this age, only Cæsar, Lucretius, and Tibullus were born in Rome. But then Rome, socially as well as politically, comprised the whole of Italy.
suddenly, at the age of 51, banished to Tomi, a town on the western shore of the Black Sea, in the present Bulgaria. The cause of his banishment can only be guessed from his allusions to the anger of the Emperor at some weakness, folly or fault, which he says he is not free to tell. Some have thought he was indiscreet enough to make love to Julia, the bright, witty,
and erratic daughter of the Emperor, wife of the grave Agrippa; others that he unfortunately knew too much of some court scandal, probably connected with Julia or her ill-famed and ill-fated daughter; others that Augustus, as public patron of morals, took offence at the somewhat cynical indecorum of certain of his poems. At any rate, the Emperor was hardened against all his flatteries and prayers, and after an exile of about ten years he died at Tomi, A.D. 18.
Besides the poems represented in this volume, Ovid was the author of the Ars Amatoria and the Remedium Amoris (to which reference has just been made), and of numerous Elegies. As a poet, his fame is far below that of Virgil and Horace, deservedly, since his loose and easy verse bears no comparison with the elaborate finish of theirs. For fancy and fine poetic feeling, however, many of the Elegies — both in the Tristia and Amores· - show a vein of as good quality as either of his rivals; while in absolute ease of handling the artificial structure of Latin verse it may be doubted whether he has ever had an equal. His chief merit, however, is as an excellent story-teller, smooth, facile, fluent; sometimes, it must be confessed, inordinately diffuse. As the most celebrated existing collection of the most famous fables of the ancient world, the Metamorphoses, in particular, makes the best of introductions to the nobler and more difficult verse of Virgil.
THIS selection follows generally the text of Merkel (1866) though the readings of other editors are preferred in one or two instances. We have endeavored to exhibit as far as possible within our limits, the variety of Ovid's style and genius, and especially to preserve the more interesting biographical hints of the Amores and the Tristia. The greater portion of the book is, however, made up, necessarily, from the Metamorphoses, of which we have taken about a third. By help of the Argument, which is given in full, we aim not merely to show the connection of the tales and the ingenuity of the transitions, necessary to comprehend the poem as a whole, — but to put before the reader something like a complete picture of the Greek mythology; at least of those narratives which have held their permanent place in the modern mind and have entered more or less into every modern literature.
The first 88 lines of Book I. have been put in an appendix, to emphasize the editor's belief that they offer too many difficulties and too little interest to the young student or the beginner. For similar reasons xiii, 1-398, and xv, 1-487, which were included in the old edition, are omitted, their place being supplied by a number of shorter selections.
The grammatical references are to Allen and Greenough's (§), Gildersleeve's (G.), and Harkness's (H.) Latin Grammars.
EXETER, N.H., June 13, 1890.