Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE - 18 CE), commonly known as Ovid, was a Roman poet. He was born at Sulmo, near Rome, to a respected family of the equestrian order. Ovid's father wanted Ovid to become a lawyer and he was trained for that purpose, but after working for a time in various judicial posts, Ovid dedicated himself to a life of poetry instead. Due to his elegance he was soon a favorite among the wealthy class of Rome and was acclaimed as the most brilliant poet of his time. During a period of moral reformation imposed by the emperor Augustus, Ovid wrote his popular The Art of Love, which appears to have offended the emperor; in any case, Ovid was exiled to the fishing village of Tomi for what he describes as "a poem and a mistake". Despite his attempts to placate Augustus through poems sent to him and other influential Romans, Ovid remained in exile until his death in 17 CE.


Ovid's poetic works include:

  • Amores (Loves)
  • Heroides (Heroines)
  • Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love)
  • Remedia Amoris (The Cure for Love)
  • Medicamina Faciei Femineae (Women's Facial Cosmetics)
  • Metamorphoses
  • Fasti (The Calendar)
  • Tristia (Sadness)
  • Epistulae ex (Letters from the Black Sea)
  • Ibis.

The influence of Ovid's poems continued long after his death. His most famous work, The Metamorphoses, appeared in 8 CE when Ovid was 52 years old. Ovid begins the work with his intent: "I want to speak about bodies changed into new forms. You, gods, since you are the ones who alter these, and all other things, inspire my attempt, and spin out a continuous thread of words, from the world's first origins to my own time." In fifteen books Ovid describes mythological, legendary, and historical figures from the beginning of the world from chaos to the reigns of Julius Caesar and Augustus. Ovid's theme throughout the poem is the unpredictable nature of things and the instability of the forms of nature.

The Metamorphoses was influential and popular in the Middle Ages; Ovid's descriptions of animals in the work were quoted in several bestiaries.