Saturday, June 23, 2012


Saint Naso

J.B. Trapp, "Ovid's Tomb: The Growth of a Legend from Eusebius to Laurence Sterne, Chateaubriand and George Richmond," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 36 (1973) 35-76 (at 43), translating from a medieval manuscript:
Neverthless many say that Ovid was saved and is numbered among the saints, because during his relegation to Patmos, St. John the Evangelist went about preaching the word of truth. Patmos and Tomis are islands near to each other. And when Ovid, now old, had heard that truth, he was converted from the error of the pagans and baptized by the aforesaid John and became a great preacher, inasmuch as he had already learned the language of that country—as he himself tells in the Tristia: "I have now learned to speak the barbarian Getan tongue". When St. John was recalled from exile, he ordained Ovid, a very wise and learned man, bishop of the land of Tomis. He suffered for the faith and so is known as St. Naso. I have heard this from many preachers.
For the Latin, in a 13th century hand added to a 10th-11th south German manuscript now in Freiburg, see Bernhard Bischoff, "Eine mittelalterliche Ovidlegende," Historisches Jahrbuch 71 (1952) 268-273 (at 272):
Sed tamen affirmant multi ipsum esse salvatum et de numero sanctorum dicentes, quod tempore relegacionis beati Iohannis evangelistae idem Iohannes circuiebat predicando veritatem. Sunt autem Pathmos et Thomos insule contigue. Cum ergo audisset Ovidius iam decrepitus veritatem, conversus est ab errore gentilitatis et a predicto Iohanne baptisatus et effectus magnus predicator utpote qui iam didicerat idioma **** terre illius sicut ipse dicit in libro Tristium:
"Iam didici Getice barbariceque loqui",*****
Cum autem revocatus fuisset beatus Iohannes, ordinavit Ovidium quasi virum prudentissimum et eruditissimum episcopum terre Tomitane et passus est pro fide et dicitur sanctus Naso. Et ego audivi hoc a multis predicatoribus.
This is the type of story one wishes were true. It strains my credulity much less than the speculations of those doubting Tomises who claim that Ovid was never exiled at all, e.g. A.D. Fitton-Brown, "The Unreality of Ovid’s Tomitan Exile," Liverpool Classical Monthly 10 (1985) 19-22, and his followers.

Sancte Naso, ora pro nobis.

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