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Publius Ovidius Naso, whom we know as Ovid, was already established as a writer when The Metamorphoses was published in
A.D. 8, when he was 52 years old. It had taken him a decade to compose his great poem, during which time he published
little, but the Roman world was still abuzz with excitement over his richly erotic Art of Love. So, unfortunately, was
the court of Augustus Caesar, and the emperor banished the poet to what is now Romania. Augustus may have taken
exception to the poet's turn to the impolite realm of the body--or he may have objected to a rumored affair between Ovid
and the emperor's nymphomaniacal daughter Julia, who figures so prominently in Robert Graves's Claudius novels. The poet
who had declared Rome to be his only home could have found no worse punishment than exile, but no amount of pleading
could sway Augustus, and Ovid died on the shores of the Black Sea a decade later. Full of veiled political and
historical references, The Metamorphoses lived on to become a permanent fixture in the canon of European literature. In
Allen Mandelbaum's hands, it lives on for a new generation.