43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D Ovid.

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O V I D.\








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Biographical Sketch of Ovid



Creation of the World

Golden Age

Silver Age .
I Brazen Age .
j Iron Age

Giants' War
^ Tra nsformation of Daphne into a Laurel

Transformation of lo into a Heifer, and the Eyes
gus into a Peacock's Train .

Tra nsformation of Syrinx into Reeds

BOOK 11.

"^ Story of Phaeton ....
Phaeton's Sisters transformed into Trees .
Transformation of Cycnos into a Swan

\gjggirj?X£alisto ....
Sto ry of Co ronis, and Birth of Esculapius

"(ycyiThoe transformed to a Mare .
Transformation of Battus to a Touchstone
Story of Aglauros transformed into a Statue
Europa's Rape ....

' Story of Cadmus



Transformation of Acteon into a Stag

Birth of Bacchus
'^^Tranoformation of Echo
'^^iaqf. of Narcissus .

Story of Pentheus .

of Ar-


. ix









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Mariners transformed to Dolphins . . .90,

Death of Pentheus . . . . . .94

Story of Alcithoe and her Sisters . . . .96

-^ t Story of Pyramus and Thisbe . . . .98"

Story of Leucothoe and the Sun .... 104-

Transformation of Clytie ..... 107

Story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditns . . . 109

Alcithoe and her Sisters transformed to Bats . . 112

Transformation of Ino and Melicerta to Sea-gods . 113

Transformation of the Theban Matrons . . .119

' Cadmus and his Queen transformed into Serpents . 1^

^ Story of Perseus . . . . . .IS

Atlas transformed to a Mountain .... ItS

-* Andromeda rescued from the Sea-Monster . .125

'Story of Medusa's Head . . . . .129

•^ Story of Perseus continued .... 131

Minerva's Interview with the Muses . . . 142

Fate of Pyreneus ...... 143

Story of the Pierides . . . . . 145

Song of the Pierides ..... 146

Song of the Muses . . . . . .147

ape of Proserpine ..... 149

yone dissolves to a Fountain «... 151
Boy transformed to an Eft . . . . . ib.

Transformation of A scalaphus into an Owl . . 155

Daughters of Achelous transfonned into Sirens . . 157

Story of Arethusa . . . . . .158

Transformation of Lyncus . . . . .161

The Pierides transformed to Magpies . . .162

Transformation of Arachne into a Spider . . 163

Story of Niobe ...... 170

Transformation of Niobe . . . . . 176

Peasants of Lycia transformed to Frogs . . .177

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Fate of Marsyas ....

. 180

Story of Pelops ....

. 181

^tory of Tereus, Procne, and Philomela .

. 182 V

Boreas in Love ....

. 195


.^loryofMedea and Jason .

. 198

Old -^son restored to Youth

. 205

Death of Pelias

. 211

Story of -<3Egeris

. 216

' Story of Ants changed to Men

. 222

Story of Cephalus and Procris



^^ry ofNisusandScylla .

. 23

^he Labyrinth

. 24.

Story of Daedalus and Icarus

. J^

^ Story of Meleager and Atalanta

. 247

Transformation of the Naiads

. 259

Periniele turned into an Island

. 261

Story of Baucis and Philemon

. 262

Changes of Proteus .

. 268

Story of Erisichthon

. 269

Description of Famine •

. 271

Transformations of Erisichthon's I


. 274


Story of Achelous and Hercules

Death of Nessus the Centaur

Death of Hercules

Transformation of Lychas into a Rock

Apotheosis of Hercules

Transformation of Galanthis

Fable of Dryope

lolaus restored to Youth

Propfhecy of Themis • •

Debate of the Gods

Passion of Byblis • . - .

Fable of Iphis and lanthe •


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' Few translations have gone through more editions, or met
with greater applause from the public.'— Bibliographical

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PuBLius OviDius Naso was born of aa ancient
and noble family at Sulmo» now Sulmona, a town
in the territory of the Peligni, in the, year of
Rome 711. He was first educated by Plotius
Grippus, and afterwards studied oratory under
MftTcellus fuscus and Porcius Latro. He was
designed by his father for the bar; and by the
talents he possessed, and the proficiency which he
mad^ in the preliminary studies, he seems not to
have been ill qualified for the profession ; indeed
the elder Seneca speaks lughly of some of his
declamatiims. The prevailing bias of his mind,
however;^rongly led him to poetical pursuits,
which 6or some^ time he endeavored to suppress, at
the instance of his friends ; but, finding that nei-
ther his bodily constitution nor his meQtal inclina-

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tioDS directed him to the profession for which he
was first intended, he deserted it altogether, and
devoted himself wholly to the study of poetry and
the society of poets. He mentions, at this time»
among the number of his intimates, Macer, Pro-
pertius, Ponticus, Bassus, and Horace. Of these,
he appears to have been most familiar with Pro-
pertius, who, like himself, had relinquished forensic
for poetical pursuits, and who occasionally re-
cited his Elegies to Ovid ; which naturally excited
the spirit of emulation in a breast devoted to poetry
and love. Ovid, like Propertius, had attempted
the epic . style ; but the failure of his friend in this
species of writing, and his brilliant . success in
elegy, appear to have determined his hesitating
muse. An attentive reader will easily perceive
the influence which the elegies of Propertius ex-
ercised in his compositions. They contain less of
Greek sentiment and expression than the poems of
his model, who was a professed imitator of Calli-
machus, Philetas, and Mimnermus ; while it is a
principal beauty of Ovid's versification that he has
moulded it with a particular regard to the natural
melody of his native language. Our poet is sup-
posed to have been indebted to Propertius for tho
first idea of his Epistles.

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The life of Ovid, like that of most men who
devote themselves to literature, exhibits few pro-
minent incidents. From himself we learn that he
was thrice married. The first union took place
when he was almost a boy, and was soon dissolved
as a low and unworthy connexion. His second
wife was also divorced, although he exhibits no
formal charge against her: but the third remained
with him until his banishment, in which she was
prevented by Augustus from bearing him com-
pany. We learn that he studied for some time at
Athens, as was customary with the youth of his
time. In the forty-first year of his age he pub-
lished his Art of Love, which was the ostensible
pretext of his banishment ten years after. Had
this event taken place at the first publication of
the work, it would have been little extraordinary,
as the tendency of the poem went directly to sub-
vert all those salutary measures for the regulation
of public morals which Augustus was taking sin-
gular pains to enforce : but Ovid, although, as a
Roman knight, he was subject to a moral exami-
nation on the part of the emperor, was never mo-
lested on the ground of the licentiousness of his
writings, until an event occurred, which lies hid-
den in impenetrable mystery, and the investigation

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of which has afforded amusement for the leisure of
the learned. For this reason, but professedly os
account of the licentious character of his Art of
Lore, Augustus banished him to Tomos, a tows
in the north of the Euxine. ^ An intrigue with
Julia, the daughter of Augustus, is by some sup
posed to have been the real cause of our poet's
exile ; but that this conjecture is incorrect may be
clearly inferred from the manner in which Ovid
himself speaks of the fatal circumstance, which he
always represents as something unintentional and
involuntary. He was accidentally witness of some
transaction which Augustus wished to be concealed.
Others imagine our poet was a confidant of the
debaucheries of Julia, and this opinion derives
countenance from the fact that she was banished
from Rome in the same year with him. A modem
writer supposes that Ovid had seen and revealed
some part of the Eleusinian mysteries.

In this banishment from the scene of all his
early pursuits and affections, Ovid eaisted in a
state of the greatest misery^ with the muse as hi^
only friend. Although he could not resign the
study of poetry, he was dissatisfied with his pro*
ductions; and before his departure from Rom^
committed his Metamorphoses to the flames. This

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OF OVID. xiii

work, although it had not received its last polish,
was complete in its plan, and had already passed
into the hands of friends, whom he afterwards in-
treated to preserve it.

Durin§^ his banishment, Ovid betrayed great
pasillanimity; and however afflicting and dis-
tressed his situation might be, yet the flattery and
impatience which he exhibited in his writings are a
disgrace to his pen, and dispose us to ridicule
rather than pity. Though he prostituted his ta-
lents and time to adulation, yet the emperor proved
deaf to all intreaties, and refused to listen to the
intercessions of his powerful friends at Rome, who
eagerly wished for the recall of the poet. Ovid,
who undoubtedly sighed for a Brutus to deliver
his country from her oppressor, continued his use-
less flattery ; and, after the death of the emperor,
was so servile as to consecrate a small temple to
the departed tyrant on the shore of the Euxine,
where he 'regularly offered frankincense every
morning. Tiberius proved as regardless as his
predecessor to the solicitatidim which were made
for Ovid ; and the unfortunate poet was at length
relieved firom his sufferings by the hand of death in
the seventh or eighth year of his exile, in the Mty-
ninth year of his age, A. D. i7» and was buried
at Tomos.

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* If the imitation of Nature/ says Dryden, ' be
the business of a poet, I know no author who can
justly be compared with ours, especially in the
description of the passions : and, to- prove this, I
shall need no other judges than the generality of
his readers ; for all passions being inborn with us,
we are almost equally judges when we are con-
cerned in the representation of them. Now I will
appeal to any man, who has read this poet, whe*
ther he finds not the natural emotion of the same
passion in himself, which the poet describes in hb
feigned persons ? His thoughts, which are the pic-
tures and results of those passions, are generally
such as naturally arise from those disorderly motions
of our spirits. Yet not to speak too partially in
his behalf, I will confess, that the copiousness of
his wit was such, that he often wrote too pointedly
for his subject, and made his persons speak more
eloquently than the violence of their passion would
admit ; so that he is frequently witty out of season ;
leaving the imitation of Nature, and the cooler dic-
tates of his judgment, for the false applause of
fancy. Yet he seems to have found out this im-
perfection in his riper age ; for why else should he
complain that his Meti^morphoses were left unfi-
nished ? Nothii^g sure can be added to the wit of
that poem, or of the rest ; but many things ought

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to have been retrenched, which I suppose would
have been the business of his age, if his misfortunes
bad not come too fast on him. But take him un-
corrected as he is transmitted to us, and it must
be acknowleged that Seneca's censure will stand
good against him ; — * He never knew how to give
over, when he had done well ;' but continually va-
rying the same sense a hundred ways, and taking
up in another place what he had more than enough
inculcated before, he sometimes cloys his readers
instead of satisfying them. This then is the allay
of Ovid's writing, which is sufficiently recompensed
by his other excellences; nay, this very fault is
not without its beauties ; for the most severe cen-
sor cannot but Be pleased with the prodigality of
his wit, though, at the same time, he could have
wished that the master of it had been a better ma«
nager. Every thing which he does becomes him,
and if sometimes he appears too gay, yet there is a
secret gracefulness of youth, which accompanies his
writings, though the staidness and sobriety of age
be wanting. In the most material part, which is
the conduct, it is certain that he seldom has mis-
carried ; for if his elegies be compared with those
of Tibullus and Propertius, his contemporaries, it
will be found that those poets seldom designed

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before they wrote: and though the Iftogoage of
Tibullus be more polished , and the learning of
Propertius more set out to ostentation ; yet their
common practice was to look no farther before
them than the next line ; whence it will inevitably
follow, that they can drive to no certain point, but
ramble from one subject to another, and conclude
with somewhat which is not of a piece with their
beginning ; as Horace says, ' though the verses are
golden, they are but patched into the garment.'
But our poet has always the goal in his eye, which
directs him in his race; some beautiful design,
which he first establishes, and then contrives tht
means, which will naturally conduct him to his

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eViD. VOL. 1. A

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Tax fonnation of the world from the confusion of Chaos by
the wisdom and power of the Deity is here described, toge-
ther with a delineation of the harmonious system of the
unirerse, and the mutual dependencies and operations of
the powers of nature — Birds, beasts, and fishes, brought
into existence — The creation of man : his superiority to
» other animals evinced in the structure of his body and the
faculties of his mind.

Of bodies changed to various forms I sing :

Ye gods, from whqm these miracles did spring,

iDspire my numbers with celestial beat,

Till I my long laborious work complete ;

Aod add perpetual tenor to my rhymes, 5

Deduced from Nature's birth to Caesar's times.
Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball,

And heaven's high canopy that covers all.

One was the face of Nature ; if a face :

Rather a rude and indigested mass : 10

A lifeless lump, unfashion'd and unframed,

Of jarring seeds, and justly Chaos named.

No snn was lighted up the world to view,
^ No moon did yet her blunted horns renew,
I Nor yet was earth suspended in the sky, 15

Nor poised, did on her own foundations lie,

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Nor seas about the shores their arms had thrown ;

But earth, and air, and water were in one.

Thus air was void of light, and earth unstable,

And water's dark abyss unnavigable. 20

No certain form on any was impressed ;

All were confused, and each disturbed the rest.

For hot and cold were in one body fix'd,

And soft with hard, and light with heavy, mix'd.

But God, or Nature, while tbey thus contend, 25
To these intestine discords put an end.
Then earth from air, and seas from earth, were

And grosser air sunk from ethereal heaven.
Thus disembroil'd, they take their proper place ;
The next of kin contiguously embrace ; 30

And foes are sunder'd by a larger space.
The force of fire ascended first on high^d^
And took its dwelling in the vaulted sky :
Then air succeeds, in lightness next to fire.
Whose atoms from unactive earth retire ; 35

Earth sinks beneath, and draws a numerous throng
Of ponderous, thick, unwieldy, seeds along.
About her coasts unruly waters roar.
And, rising on a ridge, insult the shore.
Thus when the god, whatever god was he, 40

Had form'd the whole, and made the parts agree,
That no unequal portions might be found.
He moulded earth into a spacious round :
Then, with a breath, he gave the winds to blow.
And bade the congregated waters flow. 45

He adds the running springs, and standing lakes ;
And bounding banks for winding rivers makes.
Some part, in earth are swallowed up, the most
In ample oceans disembogued, are lost.
He shades the woods, the valleys he restrains 50

With rocky mountains, and extends the plains.

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i And as ^ve zones the ethereal regions bind,
Five, correspondent, are to earth assigned :
The sun, with rays directly darting down.
Fires all beneath, and fries the middle zone ; 55

The two beneath the distant poles complain
Of endless winter, and perpetual rain.
Betwixt the extremes, two happier climates hold
The temper that partakes of hot^and cold.
The fields of liquid air, inclosing all, 60

Surround the compass of this earthly ba)^t
The lighter parts lie next the fires above.
The grosser near the watery surface m^ve :
Thick, clouds are spread, and storms en^^ender there.
And thunder's voice, which wretched mortals fear, 65
And winds, that on their wings cold winter bear.
Nor were those blustring brethren left at large,
On seas and shores their fury to discharge :
Bound as they are, and circumscribed in place,
They rend the world, resistless, where they pass, 70
And mighty marks of mischief leave behind ;
Such is the rage of their tempestuous kind.
First Eurus to the rising morn is sent,
(The regions of the balmy continent),
And eastern realms, where, earjy, Persians run 75
To greet the bless'd appearance of the sun.
Westward, the wanton zephyr wings his fiight.
Pleased with the remnants of departing light.
Fierce Boreas, with his offspring issues forth
To invade the frozen waggon of the north ; 80

While frowning Auster seeks the southern sphere.
And rots, with endless rain, the unwholesome year.
High o'er the clouds, and empty realms of wind.
The god a clearer space for heaven designed ;
Where fields of light, and liquid ether flow, 85

Pnrged from the ponderous dregs of earth below.

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6 OVID. «'

Scarce had the power dif tiagakh'd these, when strai^lt
The stars, no longer overlaid with weight, J

Exert their heads from underneath the mass, f

And upward shoot, and kindle as they pass, 90

And with diffusive light adorn their heavenly place.
*TKen, every void of nature to supply.
With forms of gods he fills the vacant sky ;
New herds of heasts he sends the plains to share ;
New colonies of hirds to people air ; 05

And to their oozy heds the finny fish repair.

A creature of a more exalted kind
Was wanting yet, and then was man designed ;
Conscious of thought, of more capacions hreast.
For empire form'd, and fit to rule the rest : 100

Whether with particles of heavenly fire
The God of nature did his soul inspire,
Or earth, but new divided from the sky.
And pliant, still retained the ethereal energy.
Which wise Prometheus tempered into paste, 105

And, mix'd with living streams, the godlike image cast
Thus, while the mute creation downward bend
Their sight, and, to their earthly mother tend,
Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
Beholds his own hereditary skies. 110

From such rude principles our form began.
And earth was metamorphosed into man.


During the reign of Satam the inhabitants of the earth enjoy
a state of primeval happiness, sepure from the intrusion of
evil passions.
The golden age was first, when man, yet new,
No rule but uncorrupted reason knew.
And, with a native bent did good pursue. 115

Unforced by punishment, unawed by fear.
His words were simple, and his soul sincere ;

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Needless was written law where none oppress'd ;

The law of man was written in his breast :

No suppliant crowds before the jndge appearM, 120

No conrt erected yet, nor canse was heard,

Bot all was safe ; for conscience was their guard.

The mountain trees in distant prospect please^

Ere yet the pine descended to the seas ;

Ere sails were spread new oceans to explore, 125

And happy mortals, unconcern'd for more.

Confined their wishes to their native shore.

No walls were yet, nor fence, nor mote, nor mound.

Nor drum was heard, nor trumpet's angry sound,

)lor swords were forged; bot, void of care and

The soft creation slept away their time. 131

The teeming earth, yet guiltless of the plough,
And unprovoked, did frnitful stores allow :
Content with food which Nature freely bred,
On wildings and on strawberries they fed ; 136

Cornels and bramble-berries gave the rest.
And falling acorns furnish 'd out a feast.
The flowers unsown, in fields and meadows reign'd ;
And western winds immortal spring maintained.
In following years the bearded corn ensued 140

From earth unask'd, nor was that earth renew'd.
From veins of valleys milk and nectar broke.
And honey sweating through the pores of oak.


The earth, no longer under the dominion of Batom, begins to
exhibit marks of degeneracy.

But when good Saturn, banish'd from above.

Was driven to hell, the world was under Jove. 145

Succeeding times a silver age behold,

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Online Library43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D OvidOvid → online text (page 1 of 21)