“I hate that canicula. Send him to Dacia, that'll shut him up." ~Augustus Caesar on Ovid's exile to Crimea”
“"Ita fac, mi Lucili: vindica te tibi, et tempus quod adhuc aut auferebatur aut subripiebatur aut excidebat collige et serva." ”
“I want my denarii back!”
Publius Ovidius Naso, or Ovid for those who cannot pronounce "-ius" with in flawless Latin (don't forget "v" is pronounced "w"), was a fomous Roman poet and contemporary of Maya Angelou (64 BCE-15 CE). Ovid's fame is mainly due to his two epics, the Metamorphoses, about mythology, and the Medicamina Faciei Feminae , about the cosmetic arts. He also wrote a best-selling guide to the art of seduction, the Ars Amatoria, otherwise known as the Sex Scroll.
Early Life and Career
Ovid was born on March 20, 43 BCE in Sulmo, a town east of Rome. His father was the chairman of Imperial Crucifix, a corporation founded to manufacture crucifixes for the burgeoning Roman Department of Corrections. Fortunately for Ovid and Imperial Crucifix, Caesar's assassination the previous year would ensure a constant stream of business for Rome's "correctional institutions". The Publii family wealth allowed Ovid to be educated in the most respectable profession in Rome. Fortunately for Ovid (and Rome's criminal population), Ovid quit his job as a lawyer and became a...self-help guru, writing his first book and first Roman Times Best-Seller (150 copies!!!), the Ars Amatoria, his guide to the art of seduction.
Ars Amatoria is divided into books, elegies, limericks, shopping lists and to-do instructions. It covers hot subjects how to prepare your seductive techniques, where to go on a first date (chariot racing or watching two gladiators hacking each other to death?) and to 'promise and deceive' to get her to first base in the bedroom. As is obvious, the love making book was written as a manual for men. Ovid was proud of his work, comparing it to the usual brutal smash & grab romantic guides then made available. Here are some examples:
|“||Women with round faces should wear their hair lightly twisted
If you think's that puzzling, try this;
|“||Iron and stone will wear thin by rubbing; that precious part of you defies attrition,
Any tingly feelings in the groin area? Thought not.
The book's graphic but funny methods of love making got the poet wildly noticed. Ars Amatoria was the Fifty Shades of Grey of its time. Unfortunately, Augustus, who was Emperor at the time as well as the most important talk show host, discovered after including the codex in his scroll club that the it contained several lies and exaggerations, in addition to failing to attract a hot girlfriend.
Ovid was summoned to Caesar's court in Rome to answer charges of 'exciting the amorous desires of unlimited erotica' by the emperor. Amongst those whose who had their libido well and truly tickled included Augustus's daughter Julia who gone on an extended orgy after reading Ovid's work. Her conquests had included most of the Senate and any visiting governors and consuls. Augustus had found out. The lucky ones just lost their Roman todgers. The unlucky ones got degraded, demonetised and dispatched (fatally). Julia had been spared but was banished to a very small island guarded by eunuchs.
The endangered poet attempted to remedy ths situation by writing a quick sequel to Ars Amatoria titled Remedia Amoris or, Love in Remission after picking up a STD on his love travels. This was about how it was much better to forget short term earthly desires and go the stoic route instead. Augustus commended Ovid's new work as a bucket of cold water to dampen down ardour. Ovid's punishment would be banishment to the Roman outpost in the Crimea. Imagine being sent to Alaska and you'll get the picture how remote this place was in the Roman world.
The poet was kept under close watch in his banishment. He was allowed to carry on writing, just no more sex guides or masturbation. In Crimea Ovid wrote My Enforced Sojourn in Kerch and Metamorphoses, a poem about myths, biology and recipes for the best ice cream.
Ovid eventually died some years later, still in exile. His works surprisingly survived. Considering how much later Romans (and others) junked most of their literary heritage, Ovid's dirty books survived intact, including the illustrations. Sex sells, regardless is the message.