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HE Life of Ovid being already writ

ten in our Language before the
T

Translation of his Metamorphoses, I
will not prefume fo far upon my felf,
to think I can add any thing to Mr.

Sandys his Undertaking. The English Reader_may there be fatisfied, that he flourished . in the Reign of Augustus Cæfar; that he was extracted from an ancient Family of Roman Knights ; that he was born to the Inheritance of a Splendid Fortune ; that he was design'd to the Study of the Law, and had made confiderable Progress in it, before he quitted that Profession, for this of Poetry's

. to which he was more naturally form’d. The Cause of his Banishment is unknown ; because he was himself unwilling further to provoke the Emperor, by ascribing it to any other Reafon,

Prefix'd to Ovid's Epiftles, Go translated into Englif Versen, they she most eminent Handso

than

than what was pretended by Augustus ; which was, the Lasciviousness of his Elegies, and his Art of Love. 'Tis true, they are not to be excus'd in the Severity of Manners, as being able to corrupt a larger Empire, if there were any, than that of Rome : Yet this may be said in behalf of Ovid, that no Man has ever treated the Passion of Love with so much Delicacy of Thought, and of Expreffion, or search'd into the Nature of it more Philosophically than he. And the Emperor, who condemn'd him, had as little Reason as another Man to punish that Fault with so much Severity, if at least he were the Author of a certain Epigram, which is ascrib'd to him, relating to the Cause of the first Civil War betwixt himself and Marc Antony the Triumvir, which is more full fom than any Passage I have met with in our Poet. To pass by the naked Familiarity of his Expressions to Horace, which are cited 'in that Author's Life, I need only mention one notorious Act of his, in taking Livia to his Bed, when she was not only married, but with Child by her Husband then living. But Deeds, it seems, may be justified by Arbitrary Power, when Words are question'd in a Pcet. There is another Guess of the Grammarians, as far from. Truth as the first from Reason : They will have him banith'd for fome Favours, which, they say, he receiv'd from Julia the Daughter of Augustus, whom they think he celebrates under the Name of Corinna in his Elegies : But he, who will observe the Verses, which are made to that Mistress; may gather from the whole Contexture of them, that Corinna was not a Woman of the highest Quality. If Julia were then married to Agrippå, why should our Poet make his Petition to Ifis, for

her

Her safe Delivery, and afterwards condole her Miscarriage ; which, for ought he knew, might be by her own Husband? Or, indeed, how durft

he be lo Bold to make the least Discovery of such a Crime, which was no less than Capital, especially committed against a Person of Agrippa's Rank? Or, if it were before her Marriage, he would sure have been more discreet, than to have publifh'd an Accident, which must have been fatal to them both. But what most confirms me against this Opinion, is, that Ovid himself complains, that the true Person of Corinna. was found out by the Fame of his Verses to her : Which if it had been Julia, he durst not have own'd; and, besides, an immediate Punishment must have follow'd. He seems himself more truly to have touch'd at the Cause of his Exile in those obscure Verses;

Cur aliquid vidi, cur noxia Lumina feci ? &c. Namely, that he had either seen, or was conscious to somewhat, which hard procur'd him his Disgrace. But neither am I fatisfied, that this was the Incest of the Emperor with his own Daughter : For Auguflus was of a Nature too Vindicative, to have contented himself with so small a Revenge, or so unfafe to himself, as that of simple Banishment; but would certainly have secur’d his Crimes from publick Notice, by the Death of him who was Witness to them. Neither have. Histories given us any Sight into such an Action of this Emperor : Nor would he (the greatest Politician of his Time) in all probability, have man nag’d his Crimes with so little Secrecy, as not to fhun the Observation of any Man. It seems more probable, that Ovid was either the Confident of some other Passion, or that he had stumbled by

some

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