20 Most Famous Quotes From the Roman Poet Ovid

Statue of Ovid in Itality

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Ovid, born Publius Ovidius Naso, was a Roman poet best known for his epic work, "Metamorphoses," his love poems, and his mysterious banishment from Rome. 

"Metamorphoses " is a narrative poem comprised of 15 books and stands as one of the most important works of classical mythology. It recounts the history of the world from the creation of the universe up until the life of Julius Caesar by telling over 250 myths. 

Born to a well-to-do family in 43 BCE, Ovid pursued poetry despite his father’s hopes that he would delve into law and politics. The young man made a wise choice. His first book, Amores (The Loves), a collection of erotic poems, proved an instant success. He followed that with two more impressive collections of erotic poetry, Heriodes (The Heroines), Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), and a number of other works. 

Sometime around 8 CE, Ovid was exiled from Rome by Emperor Augustus and his books were ordered removed from Roman libraries. Historians are not certain what the writer did to offend the rules, but Ovid, in a poem called Epistulae ex Ponto, claimed that “a poem and a mistake” were his undoings. He was sent to the Black Sea city of Tomis in what is now Romania. He died there in 17 CE.

Whatever his crimes, his work endures and he ranks among the most important and influential poets of his time. Here are 20 of his most famous quotes on love, life, and more.

Keeping an Optimistic Outlook

"Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you." / Dolor hic tibi proderit olim

"There are a thousand forms of evil; there will be a thousand remedies."

On Bravery

"The gods favor the bold."

"Courage conquers all things; it even gives strength to the body."

On Work Ethic 

"He who is not prepared today will be less so tomorrow." / Qui non est hodie cras minus aptus erit

"Either do not attempt at all or go through with it."

"A burden which is done well becomes light." / Leve fit, quod bene fertur, onus 

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop."

"The workmanship surpassed the subject matter." / Materiam superabat opus 

"Dripping hollows out a rock." / Gutta cavat lapidem 

On Love

"To be loved, be lovable."

"Every lover is a soldier and has his camp in Cupid." / Militat omnis amans et habet sua castra Cupido

"Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion."

"Everyone is a millionaire where promises are concerned."

General Words of Wisdom

"It is art to conceal art." / Ars est celare artem

"Often the prickly thorn produces tender roses." / Saepe creat molles aspera spina rosas

"We are slow to believe that which if believed would hurt our feelings."

"Habits change into character."

"In our play we reveal what kind of people we are."

"He who has lived in obscurity has lived well." / Bene qui latuit bene vixit 


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Lombardi, Esther. "20 Most Famous Quotes From the Roman Poet Ovid." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/quotes-from-the-roman-poet-ovid-740996. Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 28). 20 Most Famous Quotes From the Roman Poet Ovid. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-the-roman-poet-ovid-740996 Lombardi, Esther. "20 Most Famous Quotes From the Roman Poet Ovid." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/quotes-from-the-roman-poet-ovid-740996 (accessed May 28, 2023).