Black and white engraving of Roman poet Ovid in profile.


(43 BC - c. 17)

Ovid abandoned a promising career as a public servant to become a poet and a bon vivant. His early verse delighted in erotic intrigue and provocative portraits of the demimonde, the topics bringing him a reputation for profligacy. He had almost completed his Metamorphoses, when, in the year 8, Emperor Augustus banished him to a distant outpost on the Black Sea. Ovid attributed his exile from Rome to “a poem and a mistake”—the former his Art of Love, the latter perhaps his having known about the indiscretions of the emperor’s granddaughter. His books were ordered to be removed from the city’s libraries, and he died near the shores of the Black Sea in 17.

All Writing

What timid man does not avoid contact with the sick, fearing lest he contract a disease so near?

—Ovid, c. 10

It is permitted to learn even from an enemy.

—Ovid, c. 8

There is no small pleasure in sweet water.

—Ovid, c. 10

Fortune resists half-hearted prayers. 

—Ovid, 8

Two crimes undid me: a poem and a mistake. 

—Ovid, 10

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Ovid banished from Rome.More

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8 | Rome

Wait for It

A sister’s love for her brother.More

A fair complexion is unbecoming to a sailor: he ought to be swarthy from the waters of the sea and the rays of the sun.

—Ovid, c. 1 BC

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8 | Tomis

Love at First Sight

Child, what you seek is nowhere to be found, your beloved is lost when you avert your eyes. More

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