Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) was born in 43 BC in Sulmona, Italy. He studied rhetoric in Rome but decided to abandon his political career and concentrate on writing poetry instead.

Ovid's patron was Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus. Although mainly known for his love poetry, Ovid wrote on a wide range of subjects. His work includes Metamorphoses and The Love Poems.

In AD 8 Ovid upset Emperor Augustus with his poetry and he was banished to Costanta (in modern day Romania). The exact nature of his offence is not known but his poetry indicates that he did not share the same values as Augustus. For example, Ovid's writing concerned the serious crime of adultery, which was punishable by banishment. At the time Augustus was promoting monogamous marriage to increase the population's birth rate.

Ovid died in exile in about AD 17.

Primary Sources

(1) Ovid, Fasti (c. AD 4)

This ground, where now are the forums, was once occupied by wet swamps... drenched with the water that overflowed from the river.

(2) Ovid, Metamorphoses (c. AD 8)

Above the stars; my name will be remembered

Wherever Roman power rules conquered lands,

I shall be read, and through all centuries.

(3) Ovid, A Lover at the Races (c. 15 BC)

It's no thoroughbred horse I come to see.

The horse you favour is the horse for me...

You watch the horses while I'm watching you:

I wish us both a satisfying view.