A smaller share of the fame which Ovid often prophesies for his verse fell to the poems from exile than to other parts of his work, especially the Metamorphoses, and yet there is abundant evidence that this poetry of his declining years has been read almost continuously from his own time to ours. During the centuries of the Empire it is constantly mentioned and often imitated by the poets, both pagan and Christian, although the prose writers contain few references. From early in the second century to the first half of the fourth there is a period of silence, but the references then begin once more and continue through the Carlovingian Age and the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
The great vogue of the Tristia, and in less degree the Pontic Epistles, came in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They were used for the construction of fanciful lives of the poet and even introduced into schools. They were much imitated and pillaged; in the fourteenth century Alberto Mussato, the friend of Dante, composed a cento from the Tristia, and Dante himself made use of the Tristia together with the other works of Ovid. To this interest we own the numerous manuscripts which date from this period, and the careful study devoted to the poet is manifest in the throng of interpolations, showing knowledge of the verse technique, with which these manuscripts are filled.
The textual tradition of the Tristia is not good. We have no early manuscript of, say, the ninth century; a striking error at 1. 11. 12 shows that the whole tradition may on occasion be interpolated; and none of the 60-odd manuscripts available inspires special confidence in its readings or permits us to ignore them. The mss fall into three groups.
|(i)||Tr: fragmentum Trevirense, 10th century, containing 1. 11. 1-31, 33-2. 21; 4. 4. 35-65, 67-4. 5. 9.|
|M: Florentinus Laur., olim Marcianus 223, late 11th c., cont. 1. 5. 11-3. 7. 1; 4. 1. 12-4. 7. 5 (Owen’s L).|
|Tr and M are related and contain variant readings, but though the text they exhibit is generally superior, it is marked by blunders.|
|(ii)||A: Marcianus Politiani, 12th c., now lost and known only from Politian’s collation.|
|G: Guelferbytanus, Gud. lat. 192, 13th c.|
|H: Brit. Lib. Add. 49368, olim Holkhamicus 322, 13th c.|
|P: Vaticanus Pal. lat. 910, c. 1476.|
|V: Vaticanus lat. 1606, 13th c.|
|This group (Luck’s N) provides the staple of the Tristia text, but may anywhere be infected by interpolation.|
|(iii)||D: Gothanus membr. II 122, 13th c., lacks 3. 2. 6-3. 12.50.|
|G2: The second and coeval hand of G.|
|K: Leidensis, B.P.L. 177, late 13th c.|
|T: Turonensis Bibl. Mun. 879, early 13th c.|
|This third group (Luck’s S) sometimes preserves|