Classics Ovid’s Exile Poetry
Garth Tissol
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 September 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 September 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0280


Ovid’s poetry of exile, once considered of interest only as a source of historical and biographical details, now enjoys ever-increasing appreciation and esteem as poetry. Ovid was Rome’s best-known poet when in 8 CE he was abruptly exiled by Augustus for reasons that remain unclear. He regarded his place of exile at Tomis, on the shore of the Black Sea, as irredeemably desolate, and longed to return to Rome. Though wretched, he continued to write, producing two large collections of elegiac poetry, the Tristia, “sad poems,” and the Epistulae ex Ponto, epistolary elegies addressed to friends and supporters at Rome, in which he laments his lot and begs their help in lessening its misery. He also attacks an unnamed enemy in a poem of invective, the Ibis. To suit his new identity as a poet of lament, Ovid refashions himself and his elegiac style, remaining no less inventive and ingenious than in his earlier works.

Texts and Textual Criticism

Owen 1915 in the Oxford Classical Text series remains the handiest Latin text with apparatus criticus of Ovid’s exilic poetry, including both collections plus the Ibis in one volume. Hall 1995 is valuable for its text and apparatus, but because the editor has introduced many conjectural emendations into the text, the student ought to keep Owen 1915 or Luck 1967–1977 (cited under Commentaries on the Tristia) at hand for comparison. The text of the Epistulae ex Ponto is well served in Richmond 1990. For the Ibis see La Penna 1957 under Commentaries on the Ibis. Keeline 2016 proposes a new edition of the Ibis to update La Penna 1957. For the history of the textual transmission Tarrant 1983 is invaluable.

  • Hall, John Barrie, ed. 1995. P. Ovidi Nasonis Tristia. Stuttgart and Leipzig: Teubner.

    Hall’s edition of the Latin text of the Tristia is especially valuable for its extensive apparatus. The reader must keep in mind that Hall’s text is unusually full of conjectural emendations, some more persuasive than others.

  • Keeline, Tom. 2016. Towards a new edition of Ovid’s Ibis. American Journal of Philology 137:91–129.

    DOI: 10.1353/ajp.2016.0007

    Keeline argues that La Penna 1957, long the standard edition of the Ibis, ought to updated. He re-evaluates the manuscripts and proposes a bipartite stemma to replace La Penna’s tripartite stemma.

  • Owen, S. G., ed. 1915. P. Ovidi Nasonis Tristium libri quinque, Ibis, Ex Ponto libri quattuor, Halieutica, Fragmenta. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    Owen’s Oxford Classical Text, containing the Latin text of the Tristia, Ibis, and Epistulae ex Ponto, is still valuable for its choice of readings and for the convenience of having a reliable text of all Ovid’s exilic works in one volume. Owen also includes the pseudepigraphical Halieutica.

  • Richmond, J. A., ed. 1990. Ovidius: Ex Ponto Libri Quattuor. Leipzig: Teubner.

    Richmond’s is the standard edition of the Latin text. His choice of readings shows sound judgment; his apparatus is much more extensive than that of Owen 1915.

  • Tarrant, Richard J. 1983. Ovid. In Texts and transmission: A survey of the Latin classics. Edited by L. D. Reynolds. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    A concise, reliable, and clear discussion of the textual tradition of all Ovid’s surviving works, written by a true expert. For the Tristia, see pp. 282–284; for the Epistulae ex Ponto, pp. 262–265; for the Ibis, pp. 273–275.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.