By Robinson Ellis Edited by D. G. Williams
Ovid’s rarely studied Ibis is an elegiac companion-piece to the Tristia and Ex Ponto written after his banishment to the Black Sea in AD 8. Modelled on a poem of the same name by the Hellenistic poet Callimachus, Ibis stands out as an artistically contrived explosion of vitriol against an unnamed enemy who is characterised in terms of the Egyptian bird with its unprepossessing habits. Based in a tradition of curse-ritual, it is the most difficult of Ovid’s poems to penetrate.
Robinson Ellis’s edition remains an indispensable – if typically eccentric – platform for the study of the poem’s obscurities. Indeed Ellis deserves the primary credit for bringing Ibis back from obscurity into the light of day.
This reissue of Ellis’s 1881 edition includes a new introduction by Gareth Williams setting the edition in the context of earlier and later developments in scholarship. Ellis’s edition not only made a significant contribution to research into the Ibis, it is an important representative of a particular vein of scholarship prevalent in nineteenth-century Latin study.
Robinson Ellis (1834–1913) was fellow of Trinity College, Oxford and Corpus Christi, where he eventually succeeded Henry Nettleship as Corpus Professor of Latin (1893). He also produced a major edition of Catullus. Gareth Williams is Professor of Classics at Columbia University, New York and is author of Banished Voices: Readings in Ovid’s Exile Poetry (1994). Roger Ellis is Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Wales, College of Cardiff. He has published articles, books and papers on medieval translation theory, and on religious and other literature of the later Middle Ages.