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Robert Anderson

[Publius Ovidius Naso ]

(b Sulmo, 43 bc ; d Tomis, ad17). Roman poet . The scion of an equestrian family, he studied rhetoric, held minor public posts, but made his reputation as a poet with the Amores (c20bc). He was exiled to the Black Sea by the emperor Augustus in ad 8; there he wrote the Tristia and Epistulae ex Ponto (‘Letters from the Black Sea’).

At Rome he had completed a tragedy, Medea, now lost; but the most influential of his Roman works, in his lifetime, for European literature (from the 12th century), and eventually opera, were the Heroides and Metamorphoses. The Heroides took the form of fictional letters from heroines of antiquity to their absent husbands and lovers. The epistles of Phaedra to Hippolytus, Dido to Aeneas, Ariadne to Theseus, Medea to Jason, and Helen to Paris were absorbed by many opera librettists. In medieval and Renaissance Europe the ...