We take no pleasure in permitted joys. But what’s forbidden is more keenly sought. (Ovid, Amores, II, xix, 30)
2017 marks the 2000th anniversary of the death of the Roman poet Ovid, the author of Metamorphoses and Ars Amatoria. The anniversary makes for a great opportunity to visit his hometown of Sulmona, where Ovid-themed events are planned throughout the year and into the next.
“Ovid was always very clear to state that he came from Sulmona - the city’s motto ’Sulmo mihi patria est’ means ’Sulmona is my homeland’ in effect,” says Katy Gorman, who manages a comprehensive website about Sulmona, http://www.welcometosulmona.com.
And Sulmona, a historic town in the province of L’Aquila in Abruzzo, shows in turn its affection for the poet: a bronze statue of Ovid stands on one of the city’s main squares, Piazza XX Settembre, while the city’s main street, Corso Ovidio, is named after him (this is also where you will find the shops making the famous confetti di Sulmona, sugared almonds).
Then there are the celebrations planned for the bi-millennium of Ovid’s death, which include exhibitions, conferences and the annual ‘Certamen’ Latin competition, which just ended.
Ovid lived during the reign of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, who, in 8 AD, exiled him to Tomi (near modern Constanṭa, Romania) on the Black Sea. It is not clear why, although it is thought that Ovid was involved in a scandal having to do with the imperial family. He was never allowed to return to Rome, although he remained wildly popular during his lifetime and after his death (his poems were very successful, and would greatly influence Western literature).
Besides the events scheduled for this year, Sulmona is working on a ’Spazio Ovidio’ exhibition space, which will eventually be the focal point for Ovid fans visiting the city, says Gorman.
For detailed information about Ovid’s bi-millennium events, visit the dedicated website http://www.bimillenariovidiano.it/.