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THE LIFE OF OVID.

PUBLIUS OVIDIUS Naso was a fashionable poet at Rome
in the reign of the Emperor Augustus, perhaps the mosť
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 the last in
the present collection. Like most of the literary men of
Rome, he was not á native of that city,* being born at Sulmo,
in the country of the Peligni, about go 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.
After a career of great prosperity, he was suddenly, at the
age of 51, banished to Tomi, a town on the shore of the
Black Sea, in the present Bulgaria. The cause of his banish-
ment can only be guessed from his allusions to the anger of

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 Pata-
vium. 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,

of his poems.

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 brilliant, 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

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," including four books of letters written in exile (Ex Ponto Libri iv.). 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 the 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.

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