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Right it is to be taught even by the enemy.

Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BC17 AD) was a Roman poet known to the English-speaking world as Ovid, wrote on topics of love, abandoned women, and mythological transformations. Ranked alongside Virgil and Horace as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature, Ovid was generally considered the greatest master of the elegiac couplet.


Poetry comes fine-spun from a mind at ease.
  • Iam seges est ubi Troia fuit.
    • Now are fields of corn where Troy once stood.
  • Exitus acta probat.
    • The result justifies the deed.
    • Variant translation: The ends justify the means.
      • Heroides, II, 85
  • Abeunt studia in mores.
    • Pursuits become habits.
      • Heroides, XV. 83, "Epistle of Sappho to Phaon"
  • Principiis obsta; sero medicina paratur
    Cum mala per longas convaluere moras.
    • Resist beginnings; the remedy comes too late when the disease has gained strength by long delays.
  • [...] Qui finem quaeris amoris,
    Cedit amor rebus; res age, tutus eris.
    • Love yields to business. If you seek a way out of love, be busy; you'll be safe then.
      • Remedia Amoris, 143–4
  • Carmina proveniunt animo deducta sereno.
    • Poetry comes fine-spun from a mind at ease.
  • Donec eris sospes, multos numerabis amicos:
    tempora si fuerint nubila, solus eris.
    • So long as you are secure you will count many friends; if your life becomes clouded you will be alone.
      • Tristia, I, ix, 5
  • Horrea formicae tendunt ad inania numquam:
    nullus ad amissas ibit amicus opes.
    • Ants never head for an empty granary:
      no friends gather round when your wealth is gone.
      • Tristia, I, ix, 9-10; translation by A.S. Kline
  • Crede mihi, bene qui latuit bene vixit, et intra
    Fortunam debet quisque manere suam.
    • Well doth he live who lives retired, and keeps
      His wants within the limit of his means.
    • Tristia, III, iv, 26.
  • Vergilium vidi tantum.
    • Virgil I only saw.
      • Tristia, IV, x, 51
  • Difficile est, fateor, sed tendit in ardua virtus
    et talis meriti gratia maior erit.
    • 'Tis hard, I admit, yet virtue aims at what is hard, and gratitude for such a service will be all the greater.
      • Epistulae ex Ponto (Letters From the Black Sea), II, ii, 111-112; translation by Arthur Leslie Wheeler
  • Cura quid expediat prius est quam quid sit honestum.
    • It is annoying to be honest to no purpose.
  • Adde quod ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
    emollit mores nec sinit esse feros.
    • Note too that a faithful study of the liberal arts humanizes character and permits it not to be cruel.
  • Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.
    • Though strength be lacking, yet the will is to be praised.
  • Laeta fere laetus cecini, cano tristia tristis.
    • Happy, I often sang of happy things; now in sorrows of sorrow I sing.
  • Di pia facta vident.
    • The gods behold all righteous actions.
    • Fasti (The Festivals), II, 117
  • Est deus in nobis; agitante calescimus illo:
    impetus hic sacrae semina mentis habet.
    • There is a god within us.
      It is when he stirs us that our bosom warms ; it is
      his impulse that sows the seeds of inspiration.
      • Fasti, VI, lines 5-6; translation by Sir James George Frazer
  • Conscia mens recti famae mendacia risit
    • The mind, conscious of rectitude, laughed to scorn the falsehood of report.
      • Fasti, IV, 311. Compare: "And the mind conscious of virtue may bring to thee suitable rewards", Virgil, The Aeneid, i, 604

Amores (Love Affairs)[edit]

  • Qui nolet fieri desidiosus, amet!
    • Let who does not wish to be idle fall in love!
      • Book I; ix, 46.
  • Procul omen abesto!
    • Far away be that fate!
      • Book I; xiv, 41.
  • Aequo animo poenam, qui meruere, ferunt.
    • They bear punishment with equanimity who have earned it.
      • Book II, vii, 12
  • Quod licet ingratum est. Quod non licet acrius urit.
    • We take no pleasure in permitted joys.
      But what's forbidden is more keenly sought.
      • Book II; xix, 3
  • Cui peccare licet, peccat minus.
    • Who is allowed to sin, sins less.
      • Book III, iv
  • Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata.
    • We are ever striving after what is forbidden, and coveting what is denied us.
    • Variant translation:
      We hunt for things unlawful with swift feet,
      As if forbidden joys were only sweet.
      • Book III; iv, 17
  • Sic ego nec sine te nec tecum vivere possum.
    • So I can't live either without you or with you.
    • Variant translation: Thus, I can neither live without you nor with you.
      • Book III; xib, 39
      • Compare: Martialis "I cannot live with you nor without you" (Nec possum tecum vivere nec sine te) from Epigrams XII, 46

Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love)[edit]

If you want to be loved, be lovable.
Let love steal in disguised as friendship.
  • Spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsae.
    • They come to see; they come that they themselves may be seen.
      • Book I, 99
      • Compare: "And for to see, and eek for to be seie", Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: "The Wife of Bath's Prologue", line 6134
  • Nocte latent mendae, vitioque ignoscitur omni,
    Horaque formosam quamlibet illa facit.
    • Blemishes are hid by night and every fault forgiven; darkness makes any woman fair.
      • Book I, 249–250
  • Iuppiter ex alto periuria ridet amantum.
    • Jupiter from on high smiles down on lovers' perjuries.
    • Variant: Jupiter from above laughs at lovers' perjuries.
      • Book I, 633
  • Expedit esse deos, et, ut expedit, esse putemus.
    • It is convenient that there be gods, and, as it is convenient, let us believe that there are.
      • Book I, 637
  • Quod refugit, multae cupiunt
    • Book I, line 717
  • Intret amicitiae nomine tectus amor.
    • Let love steal in disguised as friendship.
    • Variant: Love will enter cloaked in friendship's name.
      • Book I, line 720; translated by J. Lewis May in The Love Books of Ovid, 1930
  • Ut ameris, amabilis esto.
    • If you want to be loved, be lovable.
    • Variant: To be loved, be lovable.
      • Book II, 107
      • Compare: Si vis amari, ama. Attributed to Hecato by Seneca the Younger in Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium; Epistle IX
  • Cede repugnanti; cedendo victor abibis.
    • Give way to your opponent; thus will you gain the crown of victory.
    • Variant: Yield to the opposer, by yielding you will obtain the victory.
      • Book II, 197
  • Nil adsuetudine maius.
    • Nothing is stronger than habit.
    • Variant translations: Nothing is more powerful than custom.
      • Book II, 345
  • Candida pax homines, trux decet ira feras.
    • Let white-robed peace be man's divinity; rage and ferocity are of the beast.
      • Book III, 502
  • Casus ubique valet; semper tibi pendeat hamus
    Quo minime credas gurgite, piscis erit.
    • Chance is always powerful. Let your hook always be cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be fish.
      • Book III, 425

Metamorphoses (Transformations)[edit]

  • Chaos, rudis indigestaque moles.
    • Chaos, a rough and unordered mass.
      • Book I, 7
  • Sanctius his animal mentisque capacius altae
    Deerat adhuc et quod dominari in cetera posset:
    Natus homo est.
    • A creature of a more exalted kind
      Was wanting yet, and then was Man designed;
      Conscious of thought, of more capacious breast,
      For empire formed, and fit to rule the rest.
    • Book I, 76 (translated by John Dryden)
  • Pronaque quum spectent animalia cetera terram,
    Os homini sublime dedit, coelumque tueri
    Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.
    • Thus, while the mute creation downward bend
      Their sight, and to their earthly mother tend,
      Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes
      Beholds his own hereditary skies.
      • Book I, 84 (translated by John Dryden); on the creation of Man
  • Then the omnipotent Father with his thunder made Olympus tremble, and from Ossa hurled Pelion.
    • Book I, 154
    • Compare: "Heav'd on Olympus tott'ring Ossa stood; On Ossa, Pelion nods with all his wood", Alexander Pope, The Odyssey of Homer, Book xi, line 387; "would have you call to mind the strength of the ancient giants, that undertook to lay the high mountain Pelion on the top of Ossa, and set among those the shady Olympus", François Rabelais, Works, book iv. chap. xxxviii.
  • Medio tutissimus ibis.
    • You will be safest in the middle.
    • Variant translation: You will go most safely by the middle way.
      • Book II, 137
  • Inopem me copia fecit.
    • Plenty has made me poor.
    • Variant translation: Abundance makes me poor.
      • Book III, 466
  • Causa latet, vis est notissima
    • The cause is hidden, but the result is well known.
    • Variant translation: The cause is hidden; the effect is visible to all.
      • Book IV, 287
  • Fas est et ab hoste doceri.
    • Right it is to be taught even by the enemy.
      • Book IV, 428
  • Video meliora, proboque, deteriora sequor.
    • I see better things, and approve, but I follow worse.
      • Book VII, 20
  • Sunt superis sua iura
    • The gods have their own rules.
      • Book IX, 500
  • Supremum vale.
    • A last farewell.
      • Book X, 62
  • Ars adeo latet arte sua.
    • So art lies hid by its own artifice.
      • Book X, 252
  • Nam genus et proavos et quae non fecimus ipsi, vix ea nostra voco.
    • For those things which were done either by our fathers, or ancestors, and in which we ourselves had no share, we can scarcely call our own.
    • Book XIII, 140-41
  • Omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
    • Thus all things are but altered, nothing dies.
      • Book XV, 165 (translated by John Dryden); on the transmigration of souls
  • Tempus edax rerum
    • Time, the devourer of all things.
    • Variant: Time is the devourer of all things.
      • Book XV, 234
  • Nomenque erit indelebile nostrum
    • My name shall never be forgotten
      • Book XV, 876
  • Nec species sua cuique manet, rerumque novatrix ex aliis alias reparat natura figuras: nec perit in toto quicquam, mihi credite, mundo, sed variat faciemque novat, nascique vocatur incipere esse aliud, quam quod fuit ante, morique desinere illud idem. cum sint huc forsitan illa, haec translata illuc, summa 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.


  • It is the mind that makes the man, and our vigour is in our immortal soul.
    • Cited as being from Metamorphoses Chapter XIII

Quotes about Ovid[edit]

  • The fittest for my Wound;
    Who best the gentle Passions knows to move;
    Ovid, the soft Philosopher of Love:
    His Love Epistles for my Friends I chose;
    For there I found the Kindred of my Woes.
    • John Dryden, Love Triumphant (1694), Act II, scene i.

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