The Life of Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso, Ovid, was a Roman writer who held and still holds a very large influence on many aspects of Roman literature. Ovid was born on March 20, 43 BCE in Sulma, a city that is about 90 miles outside of Rome. As a writer, Ovid worked on and wrote so many influential pieces of text in his lifetime most of which still being relevant. It is important to know the history of his works because of his role in poetry, writing, and European literature. He was well known in his lifetime and is still relevant today, making for an all-around impactful person.
Ovid was born into a very prosperous family that held high rankings in society. Because of his family life, he was sent to schooling to become a worker in legal career. However, he removed himself from that lifestyle to become a poet and writer. Very quickly, because of his writing abilities, Ovid was recognized as one of the best writers at the time and gained a very large name for himself. This is when he also met and interacted with so many other well-known writers of his time which made his reputation even bigger (Ovid).
The overarching topic of Ovid’s work is love. One of the reasons he was so successful was his ability to explore deep and resonating topics. His ability to look from the perspective of a woman gained him so many pieces of powerful literature. He also had a very good capability of understanding human interactions and instincts. Because of these things some of his work about human nature can include the Loves, the Heroines, and The Art of Love (Ovid). However, one of Ovid’s most known pieces of writing is titled Metamorphoses. This is a poem that compiles so many Greek myths into a series of fifteen books/poems. The common theme of these legends and myths is change, most likely where the name Metamorphoses originates. This poetry shaped and formed so much of mythology and tales that are studied today. The text begins with a tale of how the universe became what it is and how it did so, while the last story discusses the change of Julius Ceasar from an emperor to a god. As the stories are told, so many topics of change and alterations to the world are discussed that this is appropriately recognized as one of the most influential pieces of literature from Ovid’s life and from any other ancient writers in general. These stories inspired much of medieval writing as well, such as authors like Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio. If these poems and stories were never written, the world of mythology and ancient literature would be majorly different than what they are because of this text (David R. Slavitt). Ovid also wrote a piece of work titled Fasti. While this piece of writing may have not been as famous as Metamorphoses, it still gained a reputation of being a powerful set of stories and legends. Fasti describes and discusses myths of Roman gods and goddesses as well as explains the meaning behind rituals, special events, and festivals in honor of individual deities (Roman Mythology).
During Ovid’s lifetime, 8 A.D to be exact, he was exiled to Tomis by the emperor Augustus. The reason this happened is not completely known but could have something to do with one of his pieces of literature that discussed somebody who had family ties to the emperor. After this, most of Ovid’s work was removed from libraries. On the night before his banish, Ovid was working on two of his previously discussed gems Metamorphoses and Fasti causing the writings to have energy from his emotions at one of his darkest times. He was put at guilt for treason and the Emperor himself was the one to decide and announce his punishment. With all these issues going on, the writer was still able to remain in contact with his loved ones and remain the owner of his property, most likely because of his high position in Roman culture. This started a new chapter of Ovid’s life that changed him and his name forever (Ovid). However, because of the mostly unknown circumstances of his exile, Ovid was still allowed to write and officially publish his work even though most of his previous work was removed from libraries. This allowed his passion for writing to continue and not terminate when he was banished causing so many more writings to be read and studied from him (George Garret).
Ovid was never let out of exile and eventually died in the outskirts of the city of Rome. During his time in exile however, he wrote about his situation in many different forms. The Tristia is a mass of the poems that Ovid wrote while in exile. They ranged from his feelings about his situation to his begging to be let into his home and be released. Some of the writings were about his requests to have his normal life back in any way possible. He made every single argument possible to be allowed back to his family and live normally again. After this, he sent out five writings to Rome that tell his life and his emotions. These five texts are what the Tristia is composed of (George Garret).
In sum of Ovid, the writer, he was a large figure of Roman literature and mythology. He left a mark on the world through his strong pieces of text that resonate with whomever reads his writing. Some of his titles such as Metamorphoses and Fasti are still read and studied today to get a better knowledge of ancient writings. The ways of Ovid and his life will now and always be recognized as some of the most impactful things to affect society. Ovid, as a person and as a writer, can only be compared to the greatest of all time and will never leave the subject of history or literature.