Ovid (43 B.C.–17 A.D.?), a Roman poet. His full name was Publius Ovidius Naso. Metamorphoses (15 books), written in hexameter, describes miraculous changes from one form to another. Most of the stories are taken from legends, such as that of the transformation of Arachne from woman to spider. The time span of Metamorphoses is from the creation of the world to the death of Julius Caesar and the reign of Augustus. It has become an important source book of Greek and Roman myths.
Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), in three books, is a humorous treatise on ways to win a lover. Remedia Amoris (Love Cures) tells how to free oneself from the bonds of love. Ovid's love poems had a strong influence on poets of the Middle Ages, particularly on the troubadours, who developed the convention of courtly love. Chaucer is one of the English poets indebted to him.
Ovid was born in Sulmo (now Sulmona) in the Apennines. He studied law to please his father, but soon became an active member of the literary circle in Rome. For a time he enjoyed the favor of Emperor Augustus, his brilliant wit making him welcome at the court. He occupied several minor governmental posts.
In 8 A.D. Augustus, for some unspecified reason, banished Ovid to Tomi (now Constanta) on the Euxine (Black Sea). There Ovid finished Fasti, a calendar of important days, observances, and other phases of Roman religion. There, too, he wrote Tristia (Poems of Sorrow), expressing discontent with his dreary life as an exile.