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date: 17 April 2024

Ovid, poet, 43 bce–17 cefree

Ovid, poet, 43 bce–17 cefree

  • Stephen Hinds


Born in 43 bce, Ovid first made his name at Rome as a playful and experimental love poet, in the Amores, the epistolary Heroides, and the didactic Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris; by about 2 ce, he was able to claim that “elegy owes as much to me as epic does to Virgil.” Concurrently with the epic Metamorphoses, he was at work (2–8 ce) on the elegiac Fasti, a poetical calendar of the Roman year, with one book devoted to each month; and he would spend his final decade further extending the range of elegy with the pleas and laments of the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, sent to Rome from afar, along with the curse-poetry of the Ibis. When Ovid turned in his forties to epic, he did not attempt direct competition with the already classic Aeneid. The 15-book Metamorphoses recounted dozens of tales from classical and Near Eastern myth and legend, with no central hero, but with characters and settings changing every few pages; every episode was in some way a story of supernatural transformation, and the whole took the ostensibly chronological form of a history of the universe. As the epic neared completion in 8 ce, the poet was suddenly banished by the emperor Augustus to the Black Sea frontier, (a) for the perceived immorality of the almost decade-old Ars Amatoria, and (b) for a still-mysterious error or indiscretion. Ovid languished in his place of exile, Tomis (modern Constantsa), until his death, probably in 17 ce.


  • Latin Literature
  • Roman Myth and Religion

Updated in this version

Text expanded to reflect modern scholarship.

Figure 1. Ovid (1887) by Ettori Ferrari in Ovidiu Square, Constantsa, Romania (ancient Tomis); a 1925 replica stands in Ovid’s native Sulmona (ancient Sulmo).

Wikimedia Commons.

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 bce17 ce), poet, was born at Sulmo in the Abruzzi on March 20. Our chief source for his life is one of his own poems, Tr. 4. 10. As the son of an old equestrian family, Ovid was sent to Rome for his education. His rhetorical studies under Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro, in which he evidently acquitted himself with distinction, are described by the elder Seneca (see L. Annaeus Seneca [1]) (Controv. 2.2.8–12; cf. 9. 5. 17). His education was rounded off by the usual Grand Tour through Greek lands (Tr. 1.2.77–78, Ep. ex Pont. 2.10.21 ff.). After holding some minor judicial posts, he apparently abandoned public life for poetry—thus enacting one of the commonplaces of Roman elegiac autobiography. With early backing from M. Valerius Messalla Corvinus (Pont. 1.7.27–28), Ovid quickly gained prominence as a writer, and by 8 ce he was the leading poet of Rome. In that year, he was suddenly banished by Augustus to Tomis on the Black (Euxine) Sea (see figure 1). Ovid refers to two causes of offence in his exile poetry: carmen, a poem, the Ars Amatoria; and error, an indiscretion. He has much to say concerning the first of these counts, especially in Tr. 2; concerning the second, he repeatedly refuses to elaborate—though, since the Ars had already been out for some years in 8 ce, the error must have been the more immediate cause. Amid the continuing speculation, all that can be reconstructed from Ovid’s own hints is a vague picture of involuntary complicity (cf. Tr. 2.103–108) in some scandal affecting the imperial house.1 Tomis, a superficially Hellenized town on the extreme edge of the empire, was a singularly cruel place in which to abandon Rome’s most urbane poet. Public and private pleading failed to appease Augustus or (later) Tiberius: Ovid languished in Tomis until his death, probably (so Jerome) in 17 ce. Several of the elegies from exile are addressed to his third wife (connected somehow with the gens Fabia: Pont. 1.2.136), who remained behind him in Rome; Ovid also mentions a daughter and two grandchildren.


All extant poems are written in elegiac couplets except the Metamorphoses.

Amores, “Loves.” Three books of elegies (15, 20, and 15 poems) presenting the ostensibly autobiographical misadventures of a poet in love. What we have in this three-book collection is a second edition, published not before 16 bce and perhaps somewhat later (1.14.45–49); work on the original five books mentioned in Ovid’s playful editorial preface may have begun c.25 bce. (The chronology of all Ovid’s amatory works remains vexed.)2 The Amores continue the distinctive approach to elegy taken by Ovid’s older contemporaries Propertius and Tibullus and by the shadowy Cornelius Gallus before them (cf. Tr. 4.10.53–54); the frequent use of mythological illustration recalls especially Propertius. Corinna, the named mistress of Ovid’s collection, owes much to Propertius’ Cynthia and Tibullus’ Delia; her name itself (along with the pet bird mourned in Am. 2.6) acknowledges a debt to an important forerunner of the Augustan elegiac woman, Catullus(1)’s Lesbia (“Lesbia” looks to Sappho; “Corinna” names another Greek female poet; see corinna). Erotic elegy before Ovid had featured a disjunction in the first-person voice between a very knowing poet and a very unknowing lover. Ovid closes this gap, and achieves a closer fit between literary and erotic conventions, by featuring a protagonist who loves as knowingly as he writes. Ovid’s lover is familiar with the rules of the genre, understands the necessity for them, and manipulates them to his advantage. The result is not so much a parody of previous erotic elegy as a newly rigorous and zestful exploration of its possibilities.

Heroides, “Heroines” (so called by Priscian, Gramm. Lat. 2.544 Keil; but cf. Ars Am. 3.345 Epistula. The correct form may have been Epistulae Heroidum, “Heroines’ Epistles”). Of the “single Heroides,” 1–14 are letters from mythological female figures to absent husbands or lovers; Heroides 15, whose quality is high but whose Ovidian authorship is in doubt, is from the historical but heavily mythologised Sappho. In their argumentative ingenuity these poems show us the Ovid who was a star declaimer in the schools; in that they speak of female subjectivity under pressure, they also testify to an admiration for Euripidean tragedy (see euripides), and give us a glimpse of what we have lost in Ovid’s own Medea. The heroines tend to be well known rather than obscure: some of the interest of the letters lies in locating the point at which they are to be “inserted” into prior canonical works, usually epic or tragic, and in considering the operations of revision and recall. The epistolary format is sometimes archly appropriate (“what harm will a letter do?” Phaedra asks Hippolytus(1)), sometimes blithely inappropriate (where on her deserted shore, one wonders, will Ariadne find a postman?); above all, perhaps, it effects a characteristically Alexandrian modernisation by Ovid (see hellenistic poetry at rome) of the dramatic monologue by presenting the heroine as a writer, her impassioned speech as a written text, and the process of poetic composition as itself part of the action. Ovid claims the Heroides to be a new kind of literary work (Ars Am. 3.346); they invite comparison with an experiment in Propertius (4.3). The idea for the “double Heroides” (16–21) may have come from the replies that Ovid’s friend Sabinus is said to have composed for the “single Heroides” (Am. 2.18, a poem that probably places the “single Heroides” between the two editions of the Amores). Formerly doubted, 16–21 are now generally accepted as Ovid’s own, stylistic discrepancies with 1–14 being explained by a later compositional date (perhaps contemporary with the Fasti). Arguably it is in these paired letters that the potential of the epistolary format is most fully realised.

Medicamina Faciei Femineae, “Cosmetics for the Female Face.” A didactic poem that predates the third book of the Ars (Ars Am. 3.205–206). Only the first 100 lines survive, the latter 50 of which, a catalogue of recipes, show Ovid matching Nicander (in the Theriaca and Alexipharmaca) in virtuoso ability to make poetry out of abstruse drug-lore. See cosmetics.

Ars Amatoria, “Art of Love” (for the title cf. Sen. Controv. 3.7.2). A didactic poem (see didactic poetry) in three books on the arts of courtship and erotic intrigue; the mechanics of sexual technique receive but limited attention (2.703–732, 3.769–808), perhaps reversing the proportions of works such as the manual of Philaenis (POxy. 2891). Books 1–2, datable in their present form to about 1 bce (1.171 ff.), advise men about women; book 3, presented as a sequel (3.811 may or may not imply a substantial gap in real time), advises women about men—arguably with one eye still firmly upon the interests of the latter. The situations addressed owe much to previous elegy; at times the preceptor seems to explore the rules of love poetry as much as of love (ars amatoria functioning as ars poetica). Mythological illustration is more fully developed than in the Amores, anticipating the full-scale narratives of Metamorphoses and Fasti. The actors themselves are firmly located in contemporary Rome: the vivid specificity of the social milieux is sometimes more reminiscent of satire than of earlier elegy. As didactic, the Ars takes many traits from Virgil’s Georgics and Lucretius. It has an irreverent and parodic feel, however, deriving not from the theme alone (other didactic poems, as Ovid was to point out (Tr. 2. 471 ff.), could be frivolous too), but from the combination of theme and metre. Conventionally, didactic was a subset of epic written in hexameters; Ovid’s choice of elegiac couplets, as it signals a continuity with his own Amores, signals a felt discontinuity with mainstream didactic. As successor to the Amores, the Ars achieves much of its novelty through a reversal of the implied roles of poet and reader: in the Amores the reader oversees the poet’s love affair; in the Ars the poet oversees the reader’s love affair. It may be (for we cannot but read with hindsight derived from later events) that this newly direct implication of the Roman reader in the erotic text made the Ars the poem most likely to be picked on when the climate turned unfavourable to Ovid’s work. The poet’s attempts to forestall moral criticism in this area (1.31–34; cf. Tr. 2.245–252) seem disingenuous.

Remedia Amoris, “Remedies for Love.” A kind of recantation of the Ars Amatoria; the poet now instructs his readers how to extricate themselves from a love affair. The Remedia (date between 1 bce and 2 ce indicated by 155–158) appropriately concludes Ovid’s early career in erotic elegiac experimentation.

Metamorphoses, “Transformations.” An unorthodox epic in fifteen books, Ovid’s only surviving work in hexameters, composed in the years immediately preceding his exile in 8 ce. The poem is a collection of tales from classical and Near Eastern myth and legend, each of which describes or somehow alludes to a supernatural change of shape (see metamorphosis). Metamorphic myths enjoyed an especial vogue in Hellenistic times and had previously been collected in poems (all now lost) by Nicander, by the obscure Boios or Boeo (whose Ornithogonia, “Generation of Birds,” was apparently adapted by Macer, Tr. 4.10.43), and by Parthenius. In Ovid’s hands metamorphosis involves more than just a taste for the bizarre. Throughout the poem (and with programmatic emphasis in the opening cosmogony), the theme calls attention to the boundaries between divine and human, animal and inanimate, raising fundamental questions about definition and hierarchy in the universe. Structurally, the Metamorphoses is a paradox. The preface promises an unbroken narrative, epic in its scope, from the creation to the poet’s own day; but throughout much of the poem chronological linearity takes second place to patterns of thematic association and contrast, book divisions promote asymmetry over symmetry (see books, poetic), and the ingenious transitions (criticised by the classicizing Quintilian: Inst. 4.1.77) do as much to emphasise the autonomy of individual episodes as to weld them into a continuum. In some ways the poem’s closest analogue (structurally, but also for its interest in the mythic explanation of origins) is Callimachus’s Aetia, whose avowed aesthetic, influential on all Augustan poetry, the Metamorphoses seems both to reject and to embrace (1.4).3 There is a real flirtation with the Augustan model of epic teleology established in the Aeneid; but it can be argued that the metamorphic world of Ovid’s poem is structurally and ideologically incompatible with such a vision. Wherever his sources are wholly or partly extant, Ovid’s dialogues with the literary past repay the closest attention. He engages with an unprecedented range of Greek and Roman writing; every genre, not just epic, leaves its mark in the poem’s idiom. But in the final analysis the Metamorphoses renders its sources superfluous: with its many internal narrators and internal audiences, with its repeated stress on the processes of report and retelling whereby stories enter the common currency, the primary intertextual reading that the poem insists on is one internal to itself. As narrative, it brilliantly captures the infinite variety and patterning of the mythological tradition on which it draws (and which, for many later communities of readers, it effectively supersedes). Ovid’s poetic imagination, intensely verbal and intensely visual (see figure 2), finds here its finest expression. The Metamorphoses tells utterly memorable stories about the aspirations and sufferings that define and threaten the human condition; from the poem’s characteristic aestheticisation of those sufferings comes both its surface brightness and its profound and continuing power to disturb.4

Figure 2. Apollo and Daphne (1622–1625) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, responding to Met. 1.452 ff.

Galleria Borghese, Rome. Wikimedia Commons.

Fasti, “Calendar.” A poetical calendar of the Roman year with one book devoted to each month (see calendar, roman). At the time of Ovid’s exile it was incomplete, and only the first six books (January–June) survive. These show evidence of partial revision at Tomis (e.g. 1.3, 4.81–84); the silence that is books 7–12 abides as a reminder of a life interrupted. The poem’s astronomy (1.2) is influenced by Aratus’s Phaenomena, its aetiological treatment of history and religion (1.1) by Callimachus. These debts show Ovid at his most overtly Alexandrian; but, like Propertius in his fourth book (4.2, 4, 9, 10), he is applying Callimachean aetiology to distinctively Roman material. The Fasti belongs equally in the tradition of Varro’s lost Antiquitates; and the figure without whom the poem is ultimately inconceivable is the emperor Augustus, whose recuperation and appropriation of Roman religious discourse constitutes the basis of Ovid’s own poetic appropriation (1.13–14). The restrictiveness of the day-to-day format as a determinant of both subject-matter and structure is repeatedly stressed by the poet (4.417, 5.147–148). However, comparison with other calendrical sources (cf. A. Degrassi, Inscr. Ital.13, Fasti et Elogia (1963), esp. the Fasti Praenestini compiled by Verrius Flaccus) reveals the extent to which Ovid has been free to select and order his emphases; and the very fragmentation of the narrative material (e.g. the life of Romulus is split and chronologically shuffled between five or six different dates) offers an interesting contrast with the contemporaneous (and more fluid) Metamorphoses. The poet is a prominent character in his own poem: he appears in expository passages as an eager antiquarian weighing aetiological and etymological variants with himself or with interlocutors who range from the Muses (as in books 1–2 of Callimachus’ Aetia) to random bystanders. Long mined for its detailed information about the perceived roots of Roman religion and ritual, the Fasti has more recently attracted new attention both as a complex work of art and as an exploration of religious thinking at a time of ideological realignment.

Tristia, “Sorrows.” A series of books dispatched from exile between 9 and 12 ce, containing (so Tr. 1, 3, 4, 5) poems addressed by Ovid to his wife and to various unnamed persons in Rome. The “sorrows” of the title are the past, present, and anticipated sufferings associated with the relegation to the Black Sea: the Tristia, like the later Epistulae ex Ponto, function as open letters in which the poet campaigns from afar for a reconsideration of his sentence. Tristia 2, addressed to Augustus, differs in format from the other four books. A single poem of over 500 lines, it uses an ostensibly submissive appeal for imperial clemency as the point of departure for a sustained defence of the poet’s career and artistic integrity. The mood of the Tristia is deeply introspective, with all the rich opportunities for geography and ethnography subsumed within the narrative of an inner journey: the ships on which Ovid voyages into exile merge with his metaphorical “ship of fortune” (1.5.17–18); the icy torpor and infertility of the Pontic landscape become indices of the poet’s own (allegedly) frozen creativity. The books read at times as post mortem autobiography, with exile figured as death and the elegiac metre reclaiming its supposed origins in funereal lament. On one level, the insistently self-depreciatory poetics (e.g. 1.1.3 ff.) offer an artful fiction of incompetence, extending a topos of mock modesty familiar from earlier literary programmes in the sub-epic genres. But only on one level. The pervasive imagery of sickness and barrenness, decay and death, though belied by the continued technical perfection of Ovid’s writing, captures an erosion of the spirit that feels real enough, in and between the lines, in the later books from Tomis.

Epistulae ex Ponto, “Epistles from Pontus.” Four books of poems from exile, differing from the Tristia most obviously in that the addressees are named (1.1.17–18), and characterised with greater individuality. What results from this change is a new density and specificity of reference to the civic life of late Augustan and (in some poems) early Tiberian Rome.5 The letters in books 1–3 were gathered into a single collection (“without order”: so claims 3.9.51–54) in 13 ce; book 4 probably appeared posthumously (4.9 written in 16 ce).

Ibis. An elaborate curse-poem in elegiacs (perhaps 10 or 11 ce) directed at an enemy whose identity is hidden under the name of a bird of unclean habits; both title and treatment derive from a lost work of Callimachus (55–62). As at the beginning of the Tristia, Ovid dramatises a forced break with his former self: a previously benign poet now seeks to wound; his elegy has become a prelude to Archilochean iambic (see archilochus; iambic poetry, greek and iambic poetry, latin). In fact, the Ibis displays much continuity with Ovid’s earlier work. The poem’s ferociously dense catalogue of sufferings achieves a mythological comprehensiveness (despite its small compass) comparable to that of the Metamorphoses or Fasti; even its “unOvidian” obscurity (57–60) comes across as a thoroughly Ovidian experiment.6

Lost and spurious works. Our principal loss is Ovid’s tragedy Medea (Tr. 2.553). Two verses survive, one cited by Quintilian (Inst. 8.5.6), the other by the Elder Seneca (Suas. 3.7). The poet of the Fasti was among those who translated Aratus’ Phaenomena into Latin hexameters; two brief fragments remain. It is most unlikely that either the Halieutica or the Nux is by Ovid.7

Ovid is not only one of the finest writers of antiquity; he is also one of the finest readers. Not since Callimachus, perhaps, had a poet shown such understanding in depth and in detail of the literary traditions of which he was the inheritor; never was such understanding carried so lightly. In a national literature dominated by anxious gestures toward the past, Ovid’s relationship with his predecessors is exuberantly unanxious. Moreover, the same revisionary energy that he brings to alien texts is applied no less to his own. Ovid constantly reworks himself, at the level of the poem (the Ars reframes the Amores, the Remedia the Ars), of the episode (cross-referential Persephones in Metamorphoses and Fasti), and even of the individual line and phrase.8 This paradigm of self-imitation, together with the deceptively easy smoothness and symmetry that he bequeaths to the dactylic metres, make his manner (once achieved) endlessly imitable to later generations, as a kind of Ovidian koinē. What remains inimitable, however, is the sheer wealth of the poet’s invention. Ovid devoted most of his career to a single genre, elegy, so that by the time of the Remedia, he was already able to claim (Rem. am. 395–396) that “elegy owes as much to me as epic does to Virgil.” (The Metamorphoses still lay ahead, an epic that—although it is much else besides—can justly be said to be the epic of an elegist.) But within elegy, he achieved an unparalleled variety of output by exploiting and extending the range of the genre as no poet had before—not by ignoring its traditional norms, but by carrying to new extremes the Alexandrian and Augustan tendency to explore a genre’s potentiality by testing its boundaries.

Figure 3. The Death of Actaeon (c. 1559–1575) by Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), after Met. 3.138 ff.

National Gallery, London. Wikimedia Commons.

No Roman poet can equal Ovid’s impact upon western art and culture; only the critics, stuffy as Quintilian (Inst. 10.1.88, 98), have sometimes stood aloof. Especially remarkable in its appropriations has been the Metamorphoses—from the Christianising ingenuities codified in the 14th-century Ovide moralisé to the bold painterly narratives of Titian’s poesie in the Renaissance (see figure 3). In the Anglophone world, the terms of Ovid’s reception in the modern era have largely been defined by Dryden and Pope; behind these influential Ovids can still be sensed the Naso of Shakespeare’s Holofernes, “smelling out the odoriferous flowers of fancy,” and the figure of “Venus clerk, Ovyde” in Chaucer’s Hous of Fame. Though not immune to the challenges that the past century has posed to the continuity of the classical tradition, Ovid’s poetry, now entering upon its third millennium, still reaches artists as well as scholars: a 1979 preface to the Metamorphoses by Italo Calvino is at once an academic essay and an assimilation of Ovid’s narrative aesthetic to Calvino’s own “postmodern” fiction.9 See elegiac poetry (latin).

Primary Texts

The Oxford Classical Texts series includes up-to-date critical editions of the amatory verse (except Heroides) and Metamorphoses, and an older edition of the exile poetry.10 Complementing these are the editions of the major middle and late works in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana.11 The entire oeuvre is available in the Loeb Classical Library, with text and translation updated by G. P. Goold in the 1970s and 1980s.12 For the first time since the 18th century, Ovid is again a favourite among translators into English.13 The annotated versions in Oxford World’s Classics and Penguin Classics are aimed at general readers and students alike.14 Two reference commentaries, foundational for the past generation and more of Ovidian scholarship, are McKeown on the Amores (no commentary yet on Amores 3), and, in German, Bömer on the Metamorphoses.15 The time is not far off when there will be substantial modern commentaries for every volume of Ovid’s verse; in English, the most active presses are at Cambridge, Oxford, and Brill. For a fuller picture, as for the ever-growing corpus of monographs and articles, see the (selective) online annotated bibliographies available for Ovid at Oxford Bibliographies (including Ovid by K. Sara Myers; Ovid’s Exile Poetry by Garth Tissol; Ovid’s Love Poetry by Thea S. Thorsen; Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Lee Fratantuono), along with the comprehensive bibliographies for Amores (2016; within a survey of Roman love elegy) and Ovid, Metamorphosen (2016) posted by Niklas Holzberg, Bibliographien zur antiken Literatur, along with a non-systematic bibliography for all Ovid’s works under Augusteische Dichtung (2009). The bibliography confines itself to “companions,” and to broader Anglophone studies of and collections on Ovid’s poetry and its reception.


  • Boyd, Barbara Weiden, ed. Brill’s Companion to Ovid. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.
  • Hardie, Philip, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Ovid. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Knox, Peter E. ed. A Companion to Ovid. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.
  • Miller, John F., and Carole E. Newlands, eds. A Handbook to the Reception of Ovid. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.
Broad Literary Studies and Collections
  • Barchiesi, Alessandro. Speaking Volumes: Narrative and Intertext in Ovid and Other Latin Poets. London, UK: Duckworth, 2001.
  • Fränkel, H. Ovid: A Poet between Two Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1945.
  • Fulkerson, Laurel. Ovid: A Poet on the Margins. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.
  • Gibson, Roy, Steven Green, and Alison Sharrock, eds. The Art of Love: Bimillennial Essays on Ovid’s Ars Amatoria and Remedia Amoris. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Hardie, Philip. Ovid’s Poetics of Illusion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Hardie, Philip, Alessandro Barchiesi, and Stephen Hinds, eds. Ovidian Transformations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Philological Society, 1999.
  • Holzberg, Niklas. Ovid: The Poet and his Work. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002. A translation of German 1997 edition.
  • Kenney, E. J. “Ovid.” Cambridge History of Classical Literature (Vol. 2, Latin Literature). Edited by E. J. Kenney and W. V. Clausen, 420–457. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
  • Knox, Peter E., ed. Oxford Readings in Ovid. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Rimell, Victoria. Ovid’s Lovers: Desire, Difference, and the Poetic Imagination. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Wilkinson, L. P. Ovid Recalled. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1955.
Literary and Artistic Reception
  • Barkan, Leonard. The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986.
  • Barolsky, Paul. Ovid and the Metamorphoses of Modern Art from Botticelli to Picasso. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014.
  • Brown, Sarah Annes. The Metamorphosis of Ovid: From Chaucer to Ted Hughes. London, UK: St. Martin’s Press, 1999.
  • Fielding, Ian. Transformations of Ovid in Late Antiquity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
  • Hexter, R. J. Ovid and Medieval Schooling. Munich, Germany: Arbeo-Gesellschaft, 1986.
  • Hofmann, Michael, and James Lasdun, eds. After Ovid: New Metamorphoses. London, UK: Faber, 1994.
  • Ingleheart, Jennifer, ed. Two Thousand Years of Solitude: Exile after Ovid. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Keith, Alison, and Stephen Rupp, eds. Metamorphosis: The Changing Face of Ovid in Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Toronto, ON: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2007.
  • Martindale, Charles, ed. Ovid Renewed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  • Ziolkowski, Theodore. Ovid and the Moderns. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005.


  • 1. Cf. J. C. Thibault, The Mystery of Ovid’s Exile (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964); R. Syme, History in Ovid (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1978): 215–222.

  • 2. See Ovid: Amores: Text and Prolegomena, ed. J. C. McKeown, vol. 1 (Liverpool, UK: Francis Cairns, 1987), 74–89; and Stephen J. Harrison, “The Chronology of Ovid’s career,” in Dicite, Pierides: Classical Studies in Honour of Stratis Kyriakidis, ed. Andreas N. Michalopoulos, Sophia Papaioannou, and Andrew Zissos (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2017), 188–201.

  • 3. See E. J. Kenney, “Ovidius Proemians,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 22 (1976): 46–53.

  • 4. Cf. Amy Richlin, “Reading Ovid’s Rapes,” in Arguments with Silence (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014): 130–165.

  • 5. Cf. Fergus Millar, “Ovid and the Domus Augusta: Rome Seen from Tomoi,” Journal of Roman Studies 83 (1993): 1–17.

  • 6. Cf. Gareth Williams, “On Ovid’s Ibis: A Poem in Context,” Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 38 (1992): 171–189 at 174–175.

  • 7. Cf. J. A. Richmond, “Doubtful Works Ascribed to Ovid,” Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt 2. 31. 4 (1981): 2744–2783, with bibliography.

  • 8. Cf. A. Lueneburg, De Ovidio sui imitatore (Diss. Jena, 1888); Francesca Martelli, Ovid’s Revisions: The Editor as Author (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

  • 9. “Ovid and Universal Contiguity,” translated in Italo Calvino, The Literature Machine: Essays (London, UK: Secker & Warburg, 1987): 146–161.

  • 10. P. Ovidi Nasonis: Amores, Medicamina Faciei Femineae, Ars Amatoria, Remedia Amoris, ed. E. J. Kenney (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1994); P. Ovidi Nasonis: Metamorphoses, ed. Richard J. Tarrant (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004); and P. Ovidi Nasonis: Tristium libri quinque, Ibis, Ex Ponto libri quattuor, Halieutica, Fragmenta, ed. S. G. Owen (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1915). The only full critical edition of the Heroides is P. Ovidii Nasonis: Epistulae Heroidum, ed. H. Dörrie (Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter, 1971); but elements of an apparatus by E. J. Kenney are included in Ovid: Heroides: Select Epistles, ed. Peter E. Knox (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), and in Ovid: Heroides XVI–XXI, ed. E. J. Kenney (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

  • 11. P. Ovidi Nasonis: Metamorphoses, ed. W. S. Anderson (Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1977); P. Ovidi Nasonis: Fastorum libri sex, eds. Ernest Henry Alton, Donald Ernest Wilson Wormell, and Edward Courtney (Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1997); and P. Ovidi Nasonis: Tristia, ed. John Barrie Hall (Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1995), esp. for its apparatus; P. Ovidi Nasonis: Ex Ponto libri quattuor, ed. J. A. Richmond (Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1990). For most readerly purposes, the go–to text of the Tristia is the one (with German translation and commentary) in P. Ovidius Naso: Tristia, ed. Georg Luck, 2 vols. (Heidelberg, Germany: Carl Winter, 1967–1977).

  • 12. Ovid: Heroides and Amores, ed. G. P. Goold (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977); Ovid: The Art of Love, and Other Poems, ed. G.P. Goold (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979); Ovid: Metamorphoses, ed. G.P. Goold, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977–1984); Ovid: Fasti, ed. G. P. Goold (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989); and Ovid: Tristia and Ex Ponto, ed. G. P. Goold (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988).

  • 13. For a seven–century anthology see Christopher Martin, ed. Ovid in English (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1998). For classic versions of the Metamorphoses, see Ovid’s Metamorphoses Translated by Arthur Golding (1567), ed. Madeleine Forey (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), i.e., ‘Shakespeare’s Ovid’; Ovid’s Metamorphosis Englished, Mythologized, and Represented in Figures by George Sandys (1632), ed. K. K. Hulley and S. T. Vandersall (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1970); and Ovid: Metamorphoses, trans. John Dryden and others; ed. Samuel Garth (1717), ed. Garth Tissol (Ware, UK: Wordsworth Classics, 1998).

  • 14. In Oxford World’s Classics: A. D. Melville, Ovid: The Love Poems (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990); A.D. Melville, Ovid: Metamorphoses (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1986); and A. D. Melville, Ovid: Sorrows of an Exile: Tristia (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1992), all three volumes with introduction and notes by E. J. Kenney; and Peter Wiseman, and Anne Wiseman, Ovid: Fasti (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2011). In Penguin Classics: Peter Green, Ovid: The Erotic Poems (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1982); Harold Isbell, Ovid: Heroides (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin,1990); D. A. Raeburn with Denis Feeney, Ovid: Metamorphoses (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 2004); A. J. Boyle and Roger D. Woodard, Ovid: Fasti (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 2000); and Peter Green, Ovid: The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005; this last is a reprint with addenda of Green’s 1994 Penguin edition).

  • 15. Ovid: Amores: Text, Prolegomena and Commentary, ed. J. C. McKeown, 3 of 4 vols. so far (Leeds, UK: Francis Cairns, 1987–1998); and F. Bömer, P. Ovidius Naso: Metamorphosen, 7 vols. (Heidelberg, Germany) both commentary sets lack indexes.