Banning Ovid

From his own lifetime to the present, Ovid’s works have been directly banned several times due to charges that they advocated for lasciviousness, thereby making them unfit for public consumption.  In addition to Augustus’ proscription of Ovid, well-documented cases of explicit censorship of Ovid include the Burning of the Vanities in 15th century Florence led by Savonarola, in which all of his works were incinerated, and the Bishop’s Ban of 1599 in England, which forbade further production of Christopher Marlowe’s translation of the Amores.  Even the US Customs Service banned importation of the Ars Amatoria until the Tariff Act of 1930 lifted restrictions on foreign classics.   Also, the Metamorphoses, Ovid’s most famous work, has often been more subtly censored through expurgation.  Many editors substantially modified the sense of the original text in order to eliminate supposedly offensive erotic content and even made Ovid’s writing appear to endorse Christian morality.  Read full essay > >