1.15: Poetic Immortality
The poem begins with an address a personified Livor (“envy, malice, spite”), who has supposedly been complaining about his avoidance of more patriotic careers. [full essay]
1–2: mihi ... obicis: "bring up as criticism for me," "throw in my teeth." Līvor > līvor, -ōris, m. "envy." The personification is a purely literary device; there was no Roman cult of Līvor. Ovid views Envy as signifying criticism of poetry as an unworthy pursuit. edāx > edāx, -ācis, adj. "voracious, greedy."
3–4: mē ... sequī: indirect statement, dependent on obicis in line 1; "that I do not follow."
5–6: mē ... ēdiscere ... mē ... prostitisse: also indirect statement dependent on obicis in line 1. The references are to the two forms of specialist legal activity, that of the iūris consultus who studied the substance of the law (verbōsās lēgēs) and that of the rhētor who made speeches in court (forō); see on 1.13.21. prostitisse: aorist (AG §473); prostituō is a strong word, having much the flavor that ‘to prostitute’ a talent has in English.
7–8: mihi: dative of agent.
9–10: Maeonides > Maeonidēs, -ae, m., patronymic for "Homer," Maeon reputedly being his father’s name; Maeonia was also the Homeric name for Lydia, one of the poet’s possible birthplaces; "the Lydian." Tenedos > Tenedos, -ī, f. Tenedos is the small island that lies off the Trojan shore where the Greek fleet infamously anchored immediately before the sack of Troy. Īdē: Īdē, Īdēs is an alternate form for Īda, -ae. f. As in 1.14.11, the reference is to the Mt. Ida overlooking the plains of Troy, where the Judgment of Paris took place. Both Tenedos and Īdē are part of the setting of Homer’s great work, the Iliad. Simoīs > Simoīs, -entis, m., a small river near Troy, flowing into the Scamander.
11–12: Ascraes >Ascraeus, -a, -um "belonging to Ascra"; Ascra, a village in Boeotia, was the birthplace of the poet Hesiod, here associated with his didactic poem Works and Days about the farmer’s year and about justice. In it he discusses wine (ūva, 11) and the harvesting of grain (Cerēs, 12). mustīs > mustum, -ī, n. "must," new and unfermented wine; ablative of source or material (AG §403). Cerēs > Cerēs, -eris, f., "wheat."
13–14: Battiades > Battiadēs, -ae, m. "son of Battus," the founder of Cyrene, i.e., "the Cyrenian," referring to the third-century B.C. Hellenistic poet Callimachus; his poetry had a significant influence on later Roman poets, and for this reason Ovid elevated him to a prominent position, third only to Homer and Hesiod. ingeniō nōn valet, arte valet: Callimachus, like the Alexandrian poets in general, laid great stress on the need for poetic technique (ars) as well as natural talent or inspiration (ingenium). Ovid points out his polished artistry (arte valet), but says that when it comes to inspiration he was not as strong.
15–16: Sophoclēō > Sophoclēus -a -um, "Sophoclean, of Sophocles," the fifth-century B.C. Greek tragedian. iactūra: "loss (of stature / prestige)." cothurnō > cot(h)urnus, -ī, m. "buskin," a special kind of high, thick-soled boot worn by actors in tragedy to increase their height on stage. Cothurnus commonly serves as a metonymy for "tragedy." Arātus > Arātus, -ī, m. Aratus of Soli was a 3rd century Hellenistic author of a didactic poem in Greek on astronomy, the Phaenomena. It was widely read in the ancient world, rivaling Homer’s epics in popularity. erit: "will be (associated with)."
17–18: fallax servus ... meretrīx blanda: the deceitful slave, the stern father, the nasty brothel-keeper, and the lovable prostitute were all stock figures of Attic New Comedy, of which Menander (342–291 BC) was the most famous exponent.
19–20: Ennius: Q. Ennius (239–169 BC) was a famous early writer of Latin historical epic. arte carēns: "lacking artifice"; arte is ablative of separation (AG §400). Ennius wrote verse that was later seen as awkward and unsophisticated; but here that roughness is seen as a positive quality. animōsī ... ōris: "of the spirited tongue" (Barsby); genitive of quality, cf. AG §345. Accius: L. Accius (b. 170 BC) was the most famous of the Latin tragedians of the Republic; his style was later considerated high-flown and bombastic (animōsī ... ōris, 20). cāsūrum: "(that is) going to fall (into oblivion)."
21–22: Varrōnem > Varrō, Varrōnis m. Varro of Atax (b. 82 BC, and not the better known Marcus Terentius Varro), who wrote a lost Latin translation of the Argonautica (the story of Jason and the Argonauts) of Apollonius Rhodius. prīmamque ratem > ratis, -is, f., "ship"; according to Greek legend the first ship was the Argo. Aesoniō ... ducī: periphrasis for Jason, > Aesonius -a –um, "of or descended from Aeson"; Aeson was the father of Jason; dative of agent. terga > tergum, -ī, n., "skin, hide" referring to the Golden Fleece; plural for singular.
23–24: Lucrētī > Lucrētius, -a, -um. The philosopher-poet Titus Lucretius (b. 94 BC) wrote his didactic poem Dē Rērum Nātūrā based on Epicurean philosophy to prove that the gods were a dangerous illusion and that all things were composed of atoms and would sooner or later decompose into atoms. exitiō ... dabit ūna diēs: i.e., when the world comes to an end. This is a quotation from Lucretius (una dies dabit exitio, 5.95).
25–26: These lines allude to the great Roman epic poet Vergil. Ovid mentions neither his name nor patronymic nor place of birth (as he has done with the previous poets), but makes brief reference only to his three great works: the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid. Tītyrus: one of the shepherds in Virgil’s Eclogues and actually the first word of Eclogue 1. frūgēs: the reference is to Virgil’s Georgics, written in praise of farming. Aenēiaque > Aenēius, -a, -um (four syllables), "of Aeneas." arma: famously, the first word in the Aeneid. triumphātī is a more vivid equivalent of victī. dum caput orbis erit: "as long as Rome is the capital"; for dum + future indicative = "as long as," see OLD 1a.
27–28: dōnec: "as long as." ignēs arcūsque Cupīdinis arma: "torches and bows, the weapons of Cupid," i.e. as long as love and lovers exist. numerī: "verses." culte Tibulle: apostrophe; Albius Tibullus, along with Propertius and Gallus, was a famous elegist of the generation preceding Ovid.
29–30: Gallus: i.e. C. Cornelius Gallus (born c. 70 BC), whose elegies are almost entirely lost. nōtus: supply est. Hesperiīs ... Eōīs: dative masculine ("those dwelling in"); Ovid is probably alluding to a line from Gallus himself, as he does at Ars Amātōria 3.537: Vesper et Eōae novēre Lycōrida terrae. sua: reflexive, referring to Gallō. Lycōris > Lycōris, -idis or -idos, f. Lycoris is the poetic name Gallus gave to the lover who broke his heart; she was a well-known actress named Cytheris, and had previously been the mistress of (among others) Marc Antony.
31–32: cum: introduces a concessive clause. silicēs > silex, -icis, f. "flint" (actually any hard stone). dēpereant > dēpereō, dēperīre, dēperiī, "be completely destroyed." aevō: ablative of means or instrument (AG §409). carmina morte carent: this line has taken on a proverbial life of its own; "poetry is immortal." Morte = ablative of separation (AG §400).
33–34: cēdant ... reges: "let kings yield"; hortatory subjunctive, as are a series of verbs in the following lines. Tagī > Tagus, -ī, m. The river Tagus (in Lusitania) produced much gold and provided Rome with great wealth.
35–36: Castalia > Castalius, -a, -um "Castalian," i.e., associated with the spring on Mt. Parnassus, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, all metaphors for poetic inspiration. aquā: ablative of source and material (AG §403).
37–38: comā: ablative of place where. myrtum: the myrtle was sacred to Venus, therefore more appropriate for a love poet than laurel; it is also intolerant of cold weather (metuentem frīgora). sollicitō > sollicitus, -a, -um "troubled." multus: adverbial.
39–40: fāta > fātum, -ī, n., "death." cum ... honōs: "when each man’s fame protects him as he deserves," "in accordance with what he deserves." Literally, "his own honor protects each man." For cum + indicative introducing a circumstance which supports the main verb ("seeing that"), see OLD 6a.
41–42: adēderit: adedō, adedere, adēdī, adēsum "to consume"; future perfect. meī: partitive genitive.