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Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid, 43 B.C.- 17 A.D.?) was born into an aristocratic family and educated in law and rhetoric in Rome. Ovid found his true calling however in poetry, and following the completion of his education in Athens, he settled in Rome. His first love poems, Amores, brought him instant celebrity and his subsequent work The Art of Love marked him as the chief of erotic poets.

His publication of The Art of Love was however, ill-timed as it followed closely the banishment of Augustus' daughter Julia for profligacy despite her father's attempts at moral reforms. Ovid was soon exiled from the city under two charges -- one for his poem, and the other for not revealing evidence relating to the royal family. Ovid maintained his property but left Rome in 8 A.D. for Tomis, a frontier fortress. He died in exile in approximately 17 A.D.

Ovid's fame as a poet came not from his lofty poetical achievements, but from his keen ability to interpret his age through poetry designed to amuse and cheer the cultured society of Rome. His success was due to his vivacity, sparkling wit, and creative imagination. His texts have remained popular because of their studied movement, grace, and music, which appeal to readers and writers with an ear for technique.


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©2001 University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee -- All Rights Reserved.
Prepared by Christopher Barth, Virginia Haas, and Sarah McDaniel

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