Ovid

Ovid Poems

Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:
I tell you, Atticus, lovers all are soldiers.
Youth is fit for war, and also fit for Venus.
Imagine an aged soldier, an elderly lover!
...

I don't ask you to be faithful - you're beautiful, after all -
but just that I be spared the pain of knowing.
I make no stringent demands that you should really be chaste,
but only that you try to cover up.
...

But oh, I suppose she was ugly; she wasn't elegant;
I hadn't yearned for her often in my prayers.
Yet holding her I was limp, and nothing happened at all:
I just lay there, a disgraceful load for her bed.
...

OF bodies chang'd to various forms, I sing:
Ye Gods, from whom these miracles did spring,
Inspire my numbers with coelestial heat;
'Till I my long laborious work compleat:
...

In summer's heat and mid-time of the day,
To rest my limbs upon a bed I lay,
One window shut, the other open stood,
...

...Short partings do best, though: time wears out affections,
The absent love fades, a new one takes its place.
With Menelaus away, Helen's disinclination for sleeping
Alone led her into her guest's
...

In summer's heat and mid-time of the day
To rest my limbs upon a bed I lay,
One window shut, the other open stood,
Which gave such light, as twinkles in a wood,
...

If Memnon's mother mourned, Achilles's mother mourned,
and our sad fates can touch great goddesses,
then weep, and loose your hair in grief you never earned,
Elegy, now ah! too much like your name.
...

NOW shone the morning star in bright array,
To vanquish night, and usher in the day:
The wind veers southward, and moist clouds arise,
That blot with shades the blue meridian skies.
...

HERE, while the Thracian bard's enchanting strain
Sooths beasts, and woods, and all the listn'ing
plain,
The female Bacchanals, devoutly mad,
...

WHEN now Agenor had his daughter lost,
He sent his son to search on ev'ry coast;
And sternly bid him to his arms restore
The darling maid, or see his face no more,
...

NOW Glaucus, with a lover's haste, bounds o'er
The swelling waves, and seeks the Latian shore.
Messena, Rhegium, and the barren coast
Of flaming Aetna, to his sight are lost:
...

THE Argonauts now stemm'd the foaming tide,
And to Arcadia's shore their course apply'd;
Where sightless Phineus spent his age in grief,
But Boreas' sons engage in his relief;
...

WHILE Perseus entertain'd with this report
His father Cepheus, and the list'ning court,
Within the palace walls was heard aloud
The roaring noise of some unruly crowd;
...

PALLAS, attending to the Muse's song,
Approv'd the just resentment of their wrong;
And thus reflects: While tamely I commend
Those who their injur'd deities defend,
...

THE chiefs were set; the soldiers crown'd the
field:
To these the master of the seven-fold shield
Upstarted fierce: and kindled with disdain.
...

THENCE, in his saffron robe, for distant Thrace,
Hymen departs, thro' air's unmeasur'd space;
By Orpheus call'd, the nuptial Pow'r attends,
But with ill-omen'd augury descends;
...

Theseus requests the God to tell his woes,
Whence his maim'd brow, and whence his groans arose
Whence thus the Calydonian stream reply'd,
With twining reeds his careless tresses ty'd:
...

PRIAM, to whom the story was unknown,
As dead, deplor'd his metamorphos'd son:
A cenotaph his name, and title kept,
And Hector round the tomb, with all his brothers,
...

PYGMALION loathing their lascivious Life,
Abhorred all Womankind, but most a Wife:
So single chose to live, and shunned to wed,
...

Ovid Biography

Ovid was born in Sulmo (Sulmona), in an Apennine valley, east of Rome, to an equestrian family, and was educated in Rome. His father wished him to study rhetoric toward the practice of law. According to Seneca the Elder, Ovid tended to the emotional, not the argumentative pole of rhetoric. After the death of his brother, Ovid renounced law and began travelling — to Athens, Asia Minor, and Sicily. He held minor public posts, but resigned to pursue poetry. He was part of the circle centered upon the patron Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus. He was thrice-married and twice-divorced by the time he was thirty years old; yet only one marriage yielded offspring — a daughter. Originally, the Amores were a five-book collection, circa 20 BC; the surviving, extant version, reduced to three books, includes poems written as late as AD 1. Book 1 contains 15 elegiac love poems about aspects of love. Most of the Amores is tongue-in-cheek, and, while Ovid adhered to standard elegiac themes — such as the exclusus amator (locked-out lover) lamenting before a paraklausithyron (a locked door) — he portrays himself as romantically capable, not emotionally struck by it, (unlike Propertius, whose poetry portrays him under love's foot). He writes about adultery, rendered illegal in Augustus's marriage law reforms of 18 BC. Ovid's next poem, the Ars Amatoria, the Art of Love, parodies didactic poetry whilst being a manual about seduction and intrigue; and it refers to the ludus duodecim scriptorum board game, an antecedent of modern backgammon. He identifies this work in his exile poetry as the carmen, or song, which was one cause of his banishment. By AD 8, he had completed Metamorphoses, an epic poem derived from Greek mythology. The subject is "forms changed into new bodies". From the emergence of the cosmos from formless mass to the organized, material world, to the deification of Julius Caesar, the poem tells of transformation. The stories follow each other in the telling of human beings transformed to new bodies — trees, rocks, animals, flowers, constellations et cetera. Famous myths, such as Apollo and Daphne, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Pygmalion are contained. It explains many myths alluded to in other works, and is a valuable source about Roman religion, because many characters are gods or offspring of Olympian gods. In AD 8, Emperor Augustus banished Ovid to Tomis, on the Black Sea, for political reasons. Ovid wrote that his crime was carmen et error — "a poem and a mistake", claiming that his crime was worse than murder, more harmful than poetry. The Emperor's grandchildren, Agrippa Postumus and Julia the Younger, were banished around the time of his banishment; Julia's husband, Lucius Aenilius Paullus, was put to death for conspiracy against Augustus; Ovid might have known of that. The Julian Marriage Laws of 18 BC were fresh in the Roman mind. These promoted monogamous marriage to increase the population's birth rate. Ovid's writing concerned the serious crime of adultery, which was punishable by banishment.)

The Best Poem Of Ovid

Love And War

Lovers all are soldiers, and Cupid has his campaigns:
I tell you, Atticus, lovers all are soldiers.
Youth is fit for war, and also fit for Venus.
Imagine an aged soldier, an elderly lover!
A general looks for spirit in his brave soldiery;
a pretty girl wants spirit in her companions.
Both stay up all night long, and each sleeps on the ground;
one guards his mistress's doorway, one his general's.
The soldier's lot requires far journeys; send his girl,
the zealous lover will follow her anywhere.
He'll cross the glowering mountains, the rivers swollen with storm;
he'll tread a pathway through the heaped-up snows;
and never whine of raging Eurus when he sets sail
or wait for stars propitious for his voyage.
Who but lovers and soldiers endure the chill of night,
and blizzards interspersed with driving rain?
The soldier reconnoiters among the dangerous foe;
the lover spies to learn his rival's plans.
Soldiers besiege strong cities; lovers, a harsh girl's home;
one storms town gates, the other storms house doors.
It's clever strategy to raid a sleeping foe
and slay an unarmed host by force of arms.
(That's how the troops of Thracian Rhesus met their doom,
and you, O captive steeds, forsook your master.)
Well, lovers take advantage of husbands when they sleep,
launching surprise attacks while the enemy snores.
To slip through bands of guards and watchful sentinels
is always the soldier's mission - and the lover's.
Mars wavers; Venus flutters: the conquered rise again,
and those you'd think could never fall, lie low.
So those who like to say that love is indolent
should stop: Love is the soul of enterprise.
Sad Achilles burns for Briseis, his lost darling:
Trojans, smash the Greeks' power while you may!
From Andromache's embrace Hector went to war;
his own wife set the helmet on his head;
and High King Agamemnon, looking on Priam's child,
was stunned (they say) by the Maenad's flowing hair.
And Mars himself was trapped in The Artificer's bonds:
no tale was more notorious in heaven.
I too was once an idler, born for careless ease;
my shady couch had made my spirit soft.
But care for a lovely girl aroused me from my sloth
and bid me to enlist in her campaign.
So now you see me forceful, in combat all night long.
If you want a life of action, fall in love.

- translated from the Latin by Jon Corelis

Ovid Comments

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7 9 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 04 January 2016

In 8 AD, Ovid was exiled on the Black Sea, by Emperor Augustus for uncertain reasons that remain unexplained. According to Ovid, his exile was “Carmen et error” — a poem and a mistake. During this time, Ovid wrote two poems Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, depicting his grief. The five books of the elegiac Tristia, a chain of poems portraying the poet’s misery in exile and hoping for his return to Rome, are dated to 9–12 AD. The Ibis, an elegiac curse poem is also likely to be produced during this time. The exile poetry is moving and delicate. In the Epistulae he asserts that he has made friends with the natives of Tomis. However, he still yearned for Rome, his daughter and his third wife, as many of the poems are addressed to her. Ovid died at Tomis in 17 AD. In 1930 that town was renamed “Ovidiu “in tribute to him. Seeing that Ovid spent the final years of his life and literary work in what is now Romania, Romanian nationalists have dubbed him “The First Romanian Poet” and positioned him in the pantheon of Romanian national heroes. Ovidiu is a common male first name in Romania. Also, a statue honors him in the Romanian city of Tomis (contemporary Constanța) .

46 2 Reply
Saiom Shriver 11 April 2012

Ovid with his Metamorphoses convinced countless numbers through the millenia to follow the vegetarian diet of Pythagoras, himself, DaVinci, Van Gogh, Rodin, Ramanujan, Buddha, and according to many Biblical researchers Jesus

10 26 Reply

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