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The Poems of Exile: Tristia and the Black Sea Letters

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  334 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
In the year A.D. 8, Emperor Augustus sentenced the elegant, brilliant, and sophisticated Roman poet Ovid to exile—permanently, as it turned out—at Tomis, modern Constantza, on the Romanian coast of the Black Sea. The real reason for the emperor's action has never come to light, and all of Ovid's subsequent efforts to secure either a reprieve or, at the very least, a transf ...more
Paperback, 451 pages
Published January 18th 2005 by University of California Press (first published 13)
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Evan Leach
“Writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.” EP IV.2 33-4.

In 8 AD, Augustus sentenced the poet Ovid to exile. The cause was twofold. First, because Ovid’s earlier love poetry, particularly the Art of Love with its anything-goes approach to sex, conflicted with Augustus’ conservative social reforms. Second, a mysterious mistake or indiscretion, possibly political in nature, apparently rubbed the princeps the wrong way. It marked the end of a literary era. The last 50 years
Nov 11, 2011 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ovid was the bad boy of Augustus' Rome. He lacked Virgil's patriotic mythmaking or Horace's skeptical breadth, but his Latin is said to be more fluid than that of either of them. Ovid's youthful books are about love, common enough among Roman poets, but with a callowness beyond youth; one of them instructs women on applying make-up. After a middle age trying his hand at retelling myths, including the "Metamporphoses", August exiled Ovid from Rome for reasons that have not come down to posterity ...more
Tony Gualtieri
May 24, 2012 Tony Gualtieri rated it it was amazing
It's true that these poems are repetitive, locked in a theme of "get me out of here." At the same time, they capture the obsessive nature of exile, how it blinds one to present surroundings and makes vivid a nostalgia for a different time and a different place. Ovid writes of Rome and mentions Tomis only in passing, exaggerating its faults. Everything here is repellent, all would be well if I could only return.

It is amazing that a poet writing 2000 years ago can so clearly capture these feeling
Michael Dworaczyk
Oct 26, 2009 Michael Dworaczyk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why was Ovid banished to Tomis? Many theories are out there, but no one knows for sure. Augustus’ daughter Julia was banished at about this same time for her over-the-top promiscuous lifestyle, and we know that Ovid’s writings definitely promoted that sort of thing. Of course, she took it to the extreme. He was even asked by the emperor to “clean it up.” Of course, he refused. So did Augustus blame him for his daughter’s behavior? Was he directly involved as one of her paramours? Who knows.

Jan 18, 2014 Yvonne rated it really liked it
Sly sly Ovid, the master of playing with identity, portraying himself as a person that had as many 'misfortunes as the stars that lie between the hidden and visible pole'. Could I travel back in time, I would visit Rome and his exile Tomis, to find out what really happened and then return, keeping my mouth shut as to not destroy the myths surrounding this book.
Roman Clodia
Jun 25, 2016 Roman Clodia rated it really liked it
I normally like Loeb translations of classical texts since they are accurate and authentic even where they translate poetry into prose, but this is one of the few exceptions where another translation is better than the Loeb equivalent.

Green translates both the four books of the Tristia as well as the Epistulae ex Ponto (Black sea letters), and does a good job of making these difficult texts readable. Where Loeb is very stilted in English, here the texts flow.

There are also extensive notes of a f
Apr 14, 2008 Eric rated it really liked it
After reading "The art of love," reading the poems of exile is a gloomy prospect. The easy wit and sparkle that seems to shine so comfortably is almost entirely missing, but Ovid's brilliance is still very much in place. As long as you get past all the flattery of patrons and the emperor's family, many of the poems are quite good, and have at their core a sadness and longing to regain a sense of place in the world. Ovid is still a strong poet, and this translation does a good job of proving this ...more
Oct 17, 2008 Matimate rated it did not like it
The fall from the grace can be sometimes very painful and trigger the most interesting writings and poetry. Ovid was exiled to the small and compared to Rome, barbarian town called Tomis, modern Constantza, on the Romanian coast of the Black Sea. Lot of pain, lot of pleading all in vain. The poetry is like screams for something that never came. I like Ovid but his late poetry is not what floats my boat.
Jul 31, 2011 Robert rated it liked it
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Liam Guilar
It's a shock reading these after the Metamorphosis and the Erotic poems.

whatever value they have in Latin, In English I think Ovid was right:

Now I'm out of words, I've asked the same thing so often
now I feel shame for my endless, hopeless prayers.
You must all be bored stiff by these monotonous poems.

Clif  Wiens
Aug 28, 2016 Clif Wiens rated it it was amazing
Marvelous translation by the great classicist Peter Green. Apparently used by Bob Dylan when writing the lyrics for his 'Modern Times' album. Universal truths written in exile.
May 25, 2011 Bianca rated it really liked it
No matter whether Ovid was actually exiled or not (there is some controversy on the matter), the emotion that speaks from these poems can be recognised and felt by anyone.
Jordan Harbour
Jul 02, 2013 Jordan Harbour rated it liked it
Ovid is a bit pathetic as a writer at the end of his life. Don't read this unless you feel like being depressed.
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  • The Poems
  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • Epigrams
  • Theological Tractates/The Consolation of Philosophy
  • Leucippe and Clitophon
  • Moral Essays: Volume I
  • Virgil, Vol 2: Aeneid Books 7-12, Appendix Vergiliana (Loeb Classical Library, #64)
  • On the Nature of the Gods. Academics
  • Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica (Loeb Classical Library No. 194)
  • The Fall of Troy
  • Julius/Augustus/Tiberius/Gaius/Caligula (Lives of the Caesars 1)
  • Metamorphoses (The Golden Ass), Vol 1: Books 1-6
  • The Satyricon and The Apocolocyntosis
  • Discourses, Books 1-2
  • Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Vol 1, Books 1-5
  • The Thebaid: Seven Against Thebes
  • History of the Wars, Vol I: Books 1-2 (Persian War)
Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18), known as Ovid (/ˈɒvɪd/) in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, and for collections of love poetry in elegiac couplets, especially the Amores ("Love Affairs") and Ars Amatoria ("Art of Love"). His poetry was much imitated during Late ...more
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“Give me the waters of Lethe that numb the heart, if they exist, I will still not have the power to forget you.” 121 likes
“It's a kindness that the mind can go where it wishes.” 66 likes
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