Title: Publii Ovidii Nasonis Operum (Tomus III), in quo Fasti, Tristia, Ponticae Epistolae, et Ibis
Author: Publius Ovidius Naso
Publisher: Joannem Janssonium, 1662
Condition: Hardcover, quarter leather bound. Pocket sized, 4.5″ x 3″. In incredible condition for its age. Firmly bound, covers firmly attached, very sparingly read.
Contains Ovid’s poems written in exile on the Black Sea.
Contains Festivals, Lamentations, Letters from the Black Sea, and Curses. Book three of Ovid’s collected works.
All text is in Latin.
Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC – AD 17/18), known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria, and of the Metamorphoses, a mythological hexameter poem. He is also well known for the Fasti, about the Roman calendar; and the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto, two collections of poems written in exile on the Black Sea.
Ovid was also the author of several smaller pieces, the Remedia Amoris, the Medicamina Faciei Femineae, and the long curse-poem Ibis. He also authored a lost tragedy, Medea. He is considered a master of the elegiac couplet, and is traditionally ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonic poets of Latin literature. The scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the canonical Latin love elegists. His poetry, much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, decisively influenced European art and literature and remains as one of the most important sources of classical mythology.
The Fasti is a six-book Latin poem by Ovid believed to have been left unfinished when the poet was exiled to Tomis by the emperor Augustus in the year 8. Written in elegiac couplets and drawing on conventions of Greek and Latin didactic poetry, the Fasti is structured as a series of eye-witness reports and interviews with deities by the first-person vates (“poet-prophet” or “bard”), who explains the origins of Roman holidays and associated customs, often with multiple aetiologies. It is thus a significant and sometimes unique source for the study of Roman religion, and the influential anthropologist and ritualist J.G. Frazer translated and annotated the work for the Loeb Classical Library series. Each book covers one month, January through June, of the Roman calendar, which had been revised only recently by Julius Caesar into the form known as the Julian calendar.
The Tristia (“Sorrows” or “Lamentations”) is a collection of letters written in elegiac couplets by the Augustan poet Ovid during his exile from Rome. Despite five books of his copious bewailing of his fate, the immediate cause of Augustus’s banishment of the greatest living Latin poet to Pontus in 8 AD remains a mystery. In addition to the Tristia, Ovid wrote another collection of elegiac epistles on his exile, the Epistulae ex Ponto. He spent several years in the outpost of Tomis and died without ever returning to Rome.
The first volume was written during Ovid’s journey into exile. It addresses his grieving wife, his friends—both the faithful and the false—,and his past works, especially the Metamorphoses. Ovid describes his arduous travel to the furthest edge of the empire, giving him a chance to draw the obligatory parallels with the exiles of Aeneas and Odysseus and excuse his work’s failings. The introduction and dedication, which caution the departing volume against the dangers of its destination, were probably written last.
The second volume takes the form of a plea to Augustus to end the unhappy exile brought about by the famous carmen et error—the nature of the mistake is never made clear, although some speculate it may have had something to do with Ovid’s overhearing – or rather discovery – of the adulterous nature of Augustus’ daughter, Julia. He defends his work and his life with equal vigor, appealing to the many poets who had written on the same themes as he—among them Anacreon, Sappho, Catullus, even Homer.
The plea was unsuccessful; Ovid would live out the remainder of his years in exile among the Thracian Getae. The last three books of the Tristia grow grimmer as their author ages, heavy with the knowledge that he will never return to his home. At one point he even composes his epitaph:
I who lie here, sweet Ovid, poet of tender passions,
fell victim to my own sharp wit.
Passer-by, if you’ve ever been in love, don’t grudge me
the traditional prayer: ‘May Ovid’s bones lie soft!’
The last part of the book addresses Ovid’s wife, praising her loyalty throughout his years of exile and wishing that she be remembered for as long as his books are read.
Epistulae ex Ponto (Letters from the Black Sea) is a work of Ovid, in four books. It is especially important for our knowledge of Scythia Minor in his time.
Like the poems of books 3–5 of the Tristia, these describe the rigours of his exile and plead for leniency; they differ only by being addressed to individuals by name. Ovid’s hopes rested largely on the genial character of Germanicus, nephew and adopted son of the emperor Tiberius, who is addressed or mentioned in several places.
Ibis is a curse poem by the Latin poet Ovid, written during his years in exile across the Black Sea for an offense against Augustus. It is “a stream of violent but extremely learned abuse,” modeled on a poem of the same title by the Alexandrian poet Callimachus.
The object of this verbal assault is left unnamed except for the pseudonym Ibis, and no scholarly consensus exists as to whom the poet was directing his spleen. Titus Labienus, Caninius Rebilus, and Ovid’s erstwhile friend Sabinus have been proposed, but such a wildly exaggerated figure as “Ibis” may have been a composite.
The 644-line poem, like all Ovid’s extant work except the Metamorphoses, is written in elegiac couplets. It is thus an unusual, though not unique, example of invective poetry in antiquity written in elegiac form rather than the more common iambics or hendecasyllabics. The incantatory nature of the curses in the Ibis has sometimes led to comparisons with curse tablets (defixiones), though Ovid’s are elaborately literary in expression.
Drawing on the encyclopedic store of knowledge he demonstrated in the Metamorphoses and his other work — from memory, as he had few books with him in exile — Ovid threatens his enemy with a veritable catalogue of “gruesome and mutually incompatible fates” that befell various figures from myth and history, including a Thyestean banquet of human flesh. He declares that even if he dies in exile, his ghost will rise and rend Ibis’s flesh.
The Ibis attracted a large number of scholia, and was widely disseminated and referenced in Renaissance literature. In his annotated translation (1577), Thomas Underdowne found in Ibis a reference guide to “all manner of vices punished, all offences corrected, and all misdeedes reuenged.” An English translator noted that “a full reference to each of the allusions to be found in this poem would suffice to fill a small volume.”