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Edited for the use of the lower classes in Schools

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A655 1899 MAIN


$1. Life of the Poet. In the 17th extract of this book is contained most of what we know of the life of Ovid detailed by himself. He was born in the Consulship of Hirtius and Pansa, i.e. B.C. 43, at Sulmo (mod. Sulmona), about 90 miles from Rome, in the country of the Peligni, on the 20th of March. His full name was Publius Ovidius Naso. He always speaks of himself by his cognomen Naso. He tells us that he received from his earliest youth the best and most careful education, and in due time was sent to study rhetoric with the best teachers in Rome; and finally, though he does not mention it in the life of himself, he visited Athens for purposes of study?. He had one brother exactly a year older than himself, and their father wished the two boys to study for the profession of Advocates, which was the best way of rising in public life. The family was a well-to-do one, and for many generations the men in it had been included in the Eques

1 He alludes to this in the description of his voyage to Tomi. Tr. 1, 2, 77, Non peto quas quondam petii studiosus Athenas,

trian Order. The elder Ovid, however, died when he was only twenty: and the younger very early showed his distaste for the mode of life which his father planned for him. He tells us, with some pardonable exaggeration, that whenever he tried to compose in prose the words naturally and in spite of himself arranged themselves in metre; that the mysteries of the Muses had an attraction for him which it was impossible to resist; and that his dearest objects of reverence, almost of worship, were the poets of the day. His father tried at first to discourage him from this occupation and to warn him that nothing was to be made of it. But his bent was too strong, and his father's opposition was probably not very determined. And accordingly after serving some minor offices in the states, as one of the triumviri, decemviri, and centumviri, he declined to try for a curule office which would have given him an entrée into the Senate; and devoted himself wholly to literary pursuits and literary society. His verses soon became the fashion. He appears to have lived in the best Roman society; and from being an enthusiastic neophyte in the set of poets of the day rose to be their leader. Thus he lived at Rome until A. D. 8, when he was 51 years old. In this interval he had been three times married. All we know about this part of his life is that he tells us that his first wife was given him when he was a mere boy, and that they were not happy and were soon divorced. His second wife he also quickly divorced, although he owns that he had nothing to say against her. His third venture was more successful; and with this third wife he appears to have maintained affectionate relations to the day of his death. She did not accompany him into exile, though she wished to do so. But she stayed behind,

he infers, for his advantage, probably that she might act as the most trustworthy steward of his property and interests in his absence. Ovid also mentions a daughter, who before his 51st year had been married twice and made him a grandfather twice, having a child by both husbands. Of this daughter we know nothing. Her name has been supposed to be Perilla, from one of Ovid's letters (Trist. 2, 7) addressed to a lady of that name. This however has been with some reason doubted, and it is possible that by filia Ovid may mean his third wife's daughter, whom she had by her former husband.

This is what we know of Ovid's life to his 51st year, by which time his father and mother had both died at a very advanced age. In this year in the midst of his prosperity and literary success he was suddenly ordered by a rescript of Augustus to retire to Tomi, on the Black Sea, within a certain day? There was no possibility of refusing to obey such an order; though to a Roman of Ovid's time to quit Rome and to live in such a remote province, was to lose all that made life worth having: and you will see in the extracts from his letters or Tristia,' in the third part of this book, what were the particular miseries he felt in this forcible change of residence, and how violent his grief was at being compelled to make it. He lived for nearly ten years from the time he thus left Rome, dying in A.D. 18 at Tomi, from which place he was never allowed to depart. In spite of his lamentable account of himself he appears to

1 Tom is the form which has generally been adopted of this word, and it is that used by Suetonius. Ovid however in the only two lines in 'which he uses it writes Tomis (Tr. 3, 9, 33; Ep. e Pont. 4, 14, 59). Two forms also existed in Greek, Touets and Tours (Strabo).

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