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Tuesday
Feb062018

why Ovid Still Matters in 2018

In 2018 we find ourselves at a unique moment as a country. Publius Ovidius Naso, better known as simply 'Ovid,' found himself at a similarly pivotal moment in ancient history.

A contemporary of Vigil and Horace, Ovid [43 BCE-17CE] was an extraordinarily popular figure in Rome until he was unceremoniously exiled to a remote province on the Black Sea during the early years of the reign of the first Roman emperor Augustus. While the direct reason for Ovid’s exile remains unclear, expert believe the cause was likely a combination of three factors:  a disrespectful attitude towards the leader Augustus, coupled with his erotic poetry which was considered newly offensive in the face of a changing republic, all amid allegations he may have been involved in an unspecified plot or scandal. 
 
...Sound familiar? 
 
Ovid's exile from the Roman capital was only revoked recently in late 2017 by the Rome city council, which announced “It is about the fundamental right of artists to express themselves freely in societies in which, around the world, the freedom of artistic expression is increasingly constrained.”  
 
Outside of being considered an incendiary story-teller of his time, Ovid's poems still dictate how many modern stories are told and have untold impact on thousands of artists who follow in his footsteps.  

His Roman re-telling of the Babylonian tale of the “Pyramus and Thisbe” story not only provided the inspiration for Hasse and Coltellini’s opera, but countless other musical settings, poems, plays, and artworks. From Chaucer to Boaccacio, from Alexander Pope to Ted Hughes, from Nicholas Poussin to Carl Andre, and perhaps most infamously in Shakespeare’s parody contained within in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe continues to influence others yesterday and today.