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Quotes of Ovid

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) lived in the years 43 BCE – 17 or 18 CE. He was one of the greatest Roman elegists and poets of the Augustan era. The son of a rich equite, friend of Horace.

  • “Then the skin of Ethiopians took a swarthy hue, the hot blood tingling to the surface: then the heat dried up the land of Libya
    • latin: [Sanguine tum credunt in corpora summa vocato Aethiopum populos nigrum traxisse colorem; tum facta est Libye raptis umoribus aestu arida]
    • opis: Ovid refers here to the Greek myth according to which the steeds of the sun god Helios led by his son – Phaeton – strayed from their path and burned part of the earth. The malfunctioning of the chariot was to create the Sahara desert, and the Ethiopians’ skin was to turn black.
    • source: Ovid, Metamorphoses, II.235-238
  • “Time, devourer of everything”
    • latin: [Tempus edax rerum]
    • source: Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.234-6
  • “Times are changed, we also are changed with them”
    • latin: [Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis]
    • source: Ovid, Fasti, VI
  • “Whether they give or refuse, it delights women just the same to have been asked”
  • “You can learn from anyone even your enemy”
    • latin: [Fas est et ab hoste doceri]
    • source: Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV.428
  • “If you want to be loved, be lovable”
    • latin: [Ut ameris, amabilis esto]
    • source: Ovid, Art of Love
  • “The end crowns the work”
    • latin: [Finis coronat opus]
    • description: the phrase appears literally in Herodian’s “Roman History” (2.85) – “Exitus acta probat”. Probably the “finis coronat opus” is a medieval version.
  • “A water drop hollows a stone not by force, but by falling often”
    • latin: [Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed saepe cadendo]
    • source: Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto, IV, 10
  • “Love is a kind of military service”
    • latin: [Militiae species amor es]
    • source: Ovid, Ars Amatoria
  • “Abundance makes me poor”
    • latin: [Inopem me copia fecit]
    • source: Ovid, Metamorphoses, III, 466
  • “Forbidden fruit always tastes the best”
  • “Sooner would the birds be silent in spring, the grasshoppers in summer, sooner would the Mænalian dog turn its back upon the hare, than the fair, attentively courted, would resist the youth”
    • latin: [Vere prius volucres taceant, aestate cicadae, Maenalius lepori det sua terga canis, femina quam iuveni blande temptata repugnet]
    • source: Ovid, Ars Amatoria, I.745
  • “True art is to conceal art”
    • latin: [Ars est celare artem]
    • source: Ovid, Ars Amatoria
  • “Here I am the barbarian, and I’m understood by no one, and the stupid Getae make fun of the Latin words which I speak”
    • latin: [Barbarus hic ego sum, qui non intellegor ulli et vident stolidi verba latine Getae]
    • description: Ovid’s reflection in exile in Tomis on the Black Sea. In not entirely clear circumstances, Augustus sentenced the poet to a life-long compulsory stay in a town in the borderlands inhabited by the Getae.
    • source: Ovid, Tristia, V.10.37
  • “I see and approve of the better, but I follow the worse”
    • latin: [Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor]
    • source: Ovid, Metamorphoses, VII.20-1
  • “Resist the beginnings (and consider the end)”
    • latin: [Principiis obsta]
    • source: Ovid, Remedia Amoris, 91

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