Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ovid's Transformation: From hero poet to outcast

Ion Theodorescu-Sion "OVID IN EXILE"

"Nec species sua cuique manet, rerumque novatrix
Ex aliis alias reddit natura figuras.
Nec perit in toto quidquam, mihi credite, mundo,
Sed variat faciemque novat: nascique vocatur
Incipere esse aliud, quàm quod fuit antè; morique
Desinere illud idem; quum sint huc forsitan illa,
Haec translata illuc; summâ tamen omnia constant."

No species remains constant: that great renovator of matter
Nature, endlessly fashions new forms from old: there’s nothing
in the whole universe that perishes, believe me; rather
it renews and varies its substance. What we describe as birth
is no more than incipient change from a prior state, while dying
is merely to quit it. Though the parts may be transported
hither and thither, the sum of all matter is constant. 

Turner's painting Ovid Banished from Rome, shows a flash of golden light, but the overall composition is not a flash of golden brilliance, rather, it is the setting sun upon an old and chaotic place.  That is, while the bright sun can show the architecture in a golden brilliance, and perfection, it can also reveal the hazy, softly passing into irrelevance and aging.

That is, by banishing the poet Ovid, Rome sealed its own fate by removing one who might challenge its status quo, and question what is right and wrong.

"Cura quid expediat prius est quam quid sit honestum."
It is annoying to be honest to no purpose.

Ovid was a brilliant poet, also, a true romantic believing in the glories of romance and sexual love.  He was cast out of Rome for his poetry that might incite people to break the bonds of monogamy.  This came at a time that the Empire of Rome was trying to bring a sense of order back to society, after the many excesses of the beginnings of the Empire.

"Sic ego nec sine te nec tecum vivere possum."  
Thus, I can neither live without you nor with you.

J.M.W. Turner, Ovid Banished from Rome

"Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata."  
We are ever striving after what is forbidden, and coveting what is denied us.

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