Ovid: The Love Poems

Ovid and Horace: Poetry for Augustus

Ovid and Horace, Roman poets in the age of Augustus, collectively captured a very broad range of sentiments and atmosphere in the empire at this time. Horace wrote odes, satires, and epistles that glorify Augustus himself and his reforms and intentions for Rome. Ovid, on the other hand, in his poetry before 8 AD, chose to write about the more universally intriguing subject of love, and he did so in a way that flouted Augustan morality reforms and Augustus himself. His bold content and style, as well as his accidental knowledge of a mysterious error of someone in Augustus's family, caused him to be exiled to Tomis in 8 AD. There, he continued to compose verse, including Tristia, but his once amorous, sharp-witted voice shifted to one characterized mostly by supplication and flattery. As Horace maintains his often used persona of earnest observer who ultimately emphasizes deference and praise of Augustus in his Epistle II.1, In defense of modern poetry, Ovid's poetry from exile, as witnessed in Tristia, assumes the tone of a dejected Horace.

Augustus's main objective in his rule as Princeps of Rome was to create an image of himself as the bringer of peace, prosperity, and fertility to Rome. By extolling Augustus as the...

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