OVID was born at Sulmo, in the country of the Peligni, B. C. 43, in the same year in which Cicero was murdered, and on the very day in which the consuls Hirtius and Pansa died. The events of his life are chiefly known from his own writings, and more particularly from the tenth elegy of the fourth book of the "Tristia." Ovid was of an equestrian family. le had a brother exactly twelve months older than himself, and the two brothers were sent to Rome for an education at an early age. From his boyhood Ovid was fond of writing verses, but his father discouraged his poetic aspirations on the ground that poverty was the condition of poets, and the youth accordingly tried to prepare himself for the career of the bar. The two brothers were educated under the care of some of the best teachers then in Rome-Plotius Grippus, whom Quintilian considered one of the first teachers of eloquence; Arellius Fuscus, the friend of Horace; Messala; and Portius Latro, the friend and companion of Seneca. Seneca says that he had seen Ovid practising declamation before Fuscus. His brother Lucius died after completing his twentieth year, an event which Ovid most affectionately lamented. On attaining the suitable age, Ovid became one of the T-riumviri Capitales, a sort of magistrates whose office it was to decide petty causes between slaves and persons of inferior rank, and to superintend the prisons and the execution of criminals. Subsequently he was made one of the Centumvir, or judges who tried testamentary or even criminal cases. In due time he was promoted to be one of the Decemvir, who assembled and presided over the court of the Centumviri. But neither his bodily strength nor his disposition was suited to public or active life; poetry was his delight, and he resolved to dedicate himself to it. He accordingly sought the society of his contemporary poets, whose names he has himself recorded. He was acquainted with Macer, Propertius, Ponticus, Bassus, and Horace, who was about twenty-two years older than himself. He only just saw Virgil and Tibullus, both of whom died about B c. I8. He was married to his first wife when he was very young; the match was not a suitable one, and the wife was soon divorced. A second wife was in like manner put away, though the poet had no serious charge to make against her. Ovid's amours with Corinna, whom he celebrates under this fictitious name, and with other women, may have tended to interrupt his conjugal felicity; however this may be, he ventured to take a third wife, with whom he lived happily to the time of his exile. He had a daughter, probably by his third wife; the daughter was twice married. His father died at the advanced age of ninety, and his mother shortly after; but neither of them lived to see their son's disgrace and exile. Ovid spent an easy life at Rome in the enjoyment of the society of his friends, and in the possession of a competent income. He visited Asia and Sicily, but it does not appear at what period of his life; probably when he was a young man. His residence at Rome was near the Capitol and he had some gardens near the junction of the Flamrnian and Claudian roads; he had also a patrimony in the couritry of the Peligni. Ovid was intimately acquainted with the family of Augustus Caesar; and an "Epicedion on the death of Drusus" (B. C. 9), addressed to Livia, the mother of that prince, which is still extant, is attributed to him. Among his various poetical works which were written and ublished before his exile, his three books "Artis Amatoriae," appeared in the year 2 B. C., the same year in which Augustus banished his daughter Julia. Previous to the "Ars Amatoria " he had published his three books of "Amores," which were originally in five books, and also his "Heroides." At the close of the year A. D. 8, when he had just completed his fiftieth year, he was banished from Rome by Augustus. The sentence was altogether unexpected; it fell on the astonished poet like a thunderbolt The place of his exile was Tomi, a Milesian colony in the country of the Geta, on the banks of the Euxine. Ovid has described in a most touching manner the last night which he spent in Rome, and his eternal separation from his wife and friends; his daughter was absent in Libya. His property was not confiscated, but his exile was for life. The cause of the banishment of Ovid is not distinctly stated by himself, nor by any other writer, a circumstance which has led to various conjectures, all of which, however, are devoid of any historical foundation. The supposition that Ovid was banished for an amour with the Emperor's daughter Julia rests on no evidence, and is inconsistent with the fact ' that Julia was banished ten years before Ovid. He admits that his offence deserved a severer punishment than the Emperor inflicted. His sentence was not Exsilium, but Relegatio; and the difference was not unimportant. Exstlium was followed by a loss of fortune and citizenship; Relegatio was not followed by loss of citizenship, and only accompanied with loss of property, so far as such loss was comprehended in the sentence of Relegatio. The poet himself has expressed this with strict technical accuracy in one of his elegies addressed to his wife, in which he tells her that she cannot be truly upbraided as being the wife of an exile, inasmuch as his sentence was only Relegatio (Trist. v., El. Ii). In other passages, however, he calls himself Exsul, but doubtless in the general sense of that term; for Relegatio was one of the species of which Exsilium was the genus. He admits that there were two charges against him, the character of his amatory verses and some fault (error) which he never mentions. The whole of the second book of the "Tristia," which is addressed to Augustus, is an apology for his erotic poetry, and he complains that though written long before the date of his banishment it was made the ground or pretext of his punishment. In various other passages he refers to his poetry as one cause of his misfortunes. It may be conjectured that he was punished under the provisions of the Julian Law, De Adulteriis coercendis, which was passed about B. C. 17; for though the provisions of this law, as known to us, make no mention of obscene poetry, it is clear from the title in the " Digest," that the law extended beyond punishing the direct parties to an act of adultery, for it punished, among others, those who lent their houses for adulterous purposes. Ovid himself says that of the two charges brought against him one should be nameless, but the other was founded on his amatory poetry as encouraging to adultery:
At the time of his banishment the fifteen books of the "Metamorphoses" were unfinished; the poet had burned them, as being incomplete, at the time of his leaving Rome, but there were other copies in existence. The twelve books of the " Fasti," of which the first six only have been preserved, were also written before his exile, and, as the poet tells us. inscribed to Augustus Caesar. They were finished during his exile, and, as we now have them, inscribed to Caesar Germanicus. The works of Ovid written during his banishment are, "Tristia" and the four books of his "Letters from Pontus." The letters are addressed to his wife, to Maximus, Pedo Albinovanus, Gracinus, Rufinus, and others of his friends. The "Ibis" also was written in his banishment, and apparently soon after his arrival at Tomi. Notwithstanding the most abject entreaties of the poet and the interest of his friends, Augustus never recalled him from banishment. He died at Tomi, A. D. 18, in the sixtieth year of his age and the tenth of his banishment. Augustus died four years before him. The cir cumstance of his not being recalled by Tiberius renders it probable, as has been conjectured, that he had incurred the anger of Livia Augusta. The poet who had enjoyed all the pleasures of a luxurious capital and the society of all his most distinguished contemporaries, spent the last years of his life among a barbarous people and in an inhospitable climate, worn out with grief and mental anxiety. His only consolation in exile was to address his wife and absent friends, and his letters were all poetical. The muses who were the cause of his calamity, were also his consolation in misfortune. Though the " Tristia " and the " Letters from Pontus" have no other topic than the poet's sorrows, his exquisite taste and fruitful invention have redeemed them from the imputation of being tedious, and they are read with pleasure and even with sympathy. It shows the versatility of his talent that he wrote a poem during his exile in the Getic language; the subject was the praises of Augustus Caesar and his family. The rude barbarians to whom Ovid recited this poem were surprised and delighted: their uncivilized minds acknowledged the power of "immortal verse." They applauded and anticipated the poet's recall; but the stern master of the Roman world was inexorable. The works of Ovid form one of the most valuable parts of the literature of Rome. With the exception of the " Metamorphoses," they are all written in the elegiac measure, the restraint of which would have been ill-suited to such long compositions as the " Fasti" in the hands of almost any other Roman poet. But Ovid was a perfect master of the technical part of poetry, and it is surprising with what consummate skill he has contrived to include in each consecutive pair of verses a full and complete sense. It is rarely necessary to go beyond each pair of verses. in order to obtain the meaning of the poet, each couplet is generally complete in itself. And yet the whole of a long poem written in this measure is so artfully and skilfully combined that it exhibits a faultless unity. It is a necessary consequence, however, of this restraint, that the elegiac poems of Ovid are sometimes expressed with such an epigrammatic brevity as to be obscure, and the antithesis, which seems to be in some measure inseparable from this kind of measure, and certainly was rather sought after than avoided by the poet, is sometimes too frequent. If we estimate the character of Ovid by his erotic poetry, we must admit that he is without excuse. The pleasure of the sex seems to have been the uppermost thought of his mind, and the tendencies of his " Amores" and "Ars Amatoria" must be considered injurious to the morals of apeople. The " Remedia Aroris" can hardly be viewed, as some are inclined to view it, as a kind of Palinodia, or recantation of his amatory poetry. If we estimate the character of the poet by that of the licentious age in which he lived we shall judge him more favourably: though a man of pleasure he was temperate in eating and drinking, humane and generally beloved. There are no passages in the extant works of Ovid which approach the gross obscenity of many passages in Catullus, Horace, and other Roman writers; and this is a merit, at least viewed as a matter of taste. In a moral point of view his poetry may be more dangerous. The voluptuous pictures of Ovid are only covered with a transparent veil; and even this is sometimes withdrawn. It is rather singular that the " Heroides," which abound in obscure allusions and in voluptuous imagery, and are often difficult to understand, should have been so much used as an elementary school-book in modern times. The two great works of Ovid are his "Metamorphoses" and his " Fasti." The " Metamorphoses" consists of such legends and fables as involved a transformation, from the Creation down to the time of Julius Caesar, the last being that emperor's change into a star. It is thus a sort of cyclic poem made up of distinct episodes, but connected into one cofttinuous narrative. The rich mythology of Greece furnished Ovid with materials for his art. With exquisite taste, simplicity, and pathos, he has given to the fabulous traditions of early ages, an appearance of reality which only a master-hand could impart. His pictures of nature are striking and true; he selects with care that which is appropriate; he rejects the superfluous; and when he has completed his work, it is neither defective nor redundant. The art of the rhetorician, as well as that of the poet, is perceptible in all the works of Ovid, but particularly in the "Metamorphoses." The two speeches of Ajax and Ulysses, in the beginning of the thirteenth book, are in their kind models of oratory. He who could write the speech of Ulysses might himself become an orator. The " Metamorphoses" are read with pleasure by youth, and are re-read in more advanced age with still greater delight. The poet ventured to predict that his poem would survive him, and be read wherever the Roman name was known. The "Fasti" of Ovid are in fact a valuable historical monument. He has preserved to us the Roman calendar, with all the ancient stories attached to it, collected from the traditions of the people and the old chroniclers and antiquarians. His own explanations may often be of little value, but they are easily separated from the ancient story or tradition which he relates. He begins with January, and, following the days of the month in order, he assigns to each its appropriate festival or solemnities. It shows no small art in a poet to convert the calendar of his country into a pleasing and instructive poem, rich in historical facts, and enlivened and relieved by true poetry. A complete commentary on the " Fasti " would be a valuable commentary on Roman history. The last six books are unfortunately lost. In forming an estimate of Ovid's poetical character, we must never forget that his great poem (the "Metamorphoses ") had not the benefit of his last corrections; and that by the loss of his tragedy, the " fedea," we are deprived, according to the testimony of antiquity, of his most perfect work; and that, too, in a species of composition which demanda the highest powers of human genius. The loss which we have thus sustained may be in some measure inferred from the intimate knowledge which Ovid displays of the female heart; as in the story of Byblis in the Metamorphoses, and in the soliloquy of Medea in the same work, in which the alternations of hope and fear, reason and passion, are depicted with the greatest force. A great part of Ovid's merit, moreover, consists in his language; and it is impossible to render the meaning of the original, except by periphrasis and paraphrase, which hardly convey the meaning, and most certainly destroy the beauty, of that which is a work of consummate art.