Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon Libri XV

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by Ovid

Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon Libri XV

Title page from Publii Ovidii Nasonis Metamorphoseon Libri XV, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author Ovid
Editor Daniel Crispin
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Londini: Impensis S. Ballard, J. & P. Knapton, S. Birt, T. Longman, D. Browne [and 13 others in London]
Date 1751
Edition In hac editione quinta fere notarum pars expungitur
Language Latin
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages [8], 475, [173]
Desc. 8vo (21 cm.)
Location Shelf J-4
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]
Inscriptions, front free endpaper.
Modern readers are fortunate that the Roman elegiac poet Publius Ovidius Naso (43 B.C.E. - 17/18 C.E.), better known as Ovid, wrote of his own life in one of his poems, Tristia.[1] He received a Roman education due to his family’s high social and political status as equestrians.[2] As the culmination of his studies, Ovid went on the typical aristocratic “Grand Tour” of Greece.[3] Political life was not for him, so after Ovid held minor posts in Rome, he dedicated his life to poetry and became part of Messallian group of poets.[4] By 8 CE, Ovid “was the leading poet of Rome” but was suddenly banished by the Emperor Augustus to the city Tomis due to a poem and an error which offended the emperor.[5] During this ten-year ban, Ovid kept his Roman property and civic rights, but his books were removed from public libraries in Rome.[6]

Metamorphoses contains a wide variety of memorable myths and legends, each telling of some type of supernatural transformation, “call[ing] attention to the boundaries between divine and human, animal and inanimate, raising fundamental questions about definition and hierarchy in the universe.”[7] Ovid’s mastery of elegiac poetry was unsurpassed. “No Roman poet can equal Ovid’s impact upon western art and culture. Esp[ecially] remarkable in its appropriations has been the Metamorphoses.”[8]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Listed in the Jefferson Inventory of Wythe's Library as "Ovidii Metamorphoseon. Delph. 8vo." This was one of the books kept by Thomas Jefferson. He sold a copy to the Library of Congress in 1815, but it no longer exists to verify the edition or Wythe's prior ownership.[9] George Wythe's Library[10] on LibraryThing merely indicates "Precise edition unknown." The Brown Bibliography[11] includes the 1751 edition based on E. Millicent Sowerby's inclusion of that edition in Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson. The Wolf Law Library purchased a copy of the same edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in original calf with gilt compartments to spine. Includes previous owner inscriptions "William Chadwick, 1759," "John Turner, His Book, Anno Domini 1783," and "Simeon Willoughby, His Book, Anno Domini 1784" on the front free endpaper. Purchased from Tony Hutchinson.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Headpiece, first page of text.

See also


  1. "Ovid” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, ed. by M.C. Howatson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  2. "Ovid" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, ed. by John Roberts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  3. Ibid.
  4. "Ovid” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  5. "Ovid" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  6. "Ovid” in The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature.
  7. "Ovid" in Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World.
  8. Ibid.
  9. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 4:449 (no.4339).
  10. LibraryThing, s. v. "Member: George Wythe", accessed February 28, 2014.
  11. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at:

External Links

View the record for this book in Google Books.