Ovid, wittiest of ancient poets, has been an influential model for writers and artists throughout the ages. Llewelyn Morgan introduces the poet and his works, describing each of his poems in turn, setting them in their social and literary context, and considering the twist of events that led to the exile of Rome’s most celebrated artist.
“Vivam” is the very last word of Ovid’s masterpiece, the Metamorphoses: “I shall live.” If we’re still reading it two millennia after Ovid’s death, this is by definition a remarkably accurate prophecy. Ovid was not the only ancient author with aspirations to be read for eternity, but no poet of the Greco-Roman world has had a deeper or more lasting impact on subsequent literature and art than he can claim. In the present day no Greek or Roman poet is as accessible,to artists, writers, or the general reader: Ovid’s voice remains a compellingly contemporary one, as modern as it seemed to his contemporaries in Augustan Rome. But Ovid was also a man of his time, his own story fatally entwined with that of the first emperor Augustus, and the poetry he wrote channelsin its own way the cultural and political upheavals of the contemporary city, its public life, sexual mores, religion, and urban landscape, while also exploiting the superbly rich store of poetic convention that Greek literature and his Roman predecessors had bequeathed to him. This Very Short Introduction explains Ovid’s background, social and literary, and introduces his poetry, on love, metamorphosis, Roman festivals, and his own exile, a restlessly innovative oeuvre driven by the irrepressible ingenium or wit for which he was famous. Llewelyn Morgan also explores Ovid’s immense influence on later literature and art, spanning from Shakespeare to Bernini. Throughout, Ovid’s poetry is revealed as enduringly scintillating, his personal storycompelling, and the issues his life and poetry raise of continuing relevance and interest.ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.