O noble Ovyde, ful sooth seystou, God woot,
What sleighte is it, thogh it be long and hoot,
That Love nyl fynde it out in som manere? (MerT IV.2125-27)
Publius Ovidius Naso was born March 21, 43 B.C. and died (in exile) in 17 A.D. He is the single most important classical Latin writer for Chaucer (and for much of English literature), and in many ways he is the Roman writer who most resembles Chaucer in style and attitude. See John M. Fyler, Chaucer and Ovid, Yale, 1979. For further study of Ovid, begin at The Ovid Collection at the University of Virginia.
Chaucer draws heavily on the Metamorphoses throughout his works: See Metamorphoses. tr. Frank Justus Miller, Loeb. Cambridge, 1977-84 [PA6522.A1x 1984]. For an eighteenth century translation into heroic couplets see Metamorphoses, tr. Samuel Garth, John Dryden, et. al. New York, 1976 [PA6522.M2 G3 1976 f].
The Wife of Bath draws on Ovid for the story of Midas, and her own character ultimately owes something to Ovid's Dipsas.
Ovid's story of Phoebus and the Crow is the ultimate source of the Manciple's Tale.
Chaucer also draws on Ovid for his account of Hercules in the Monk's Tale:
- The Art of Love and Other Poems, tr. J.H. Mozley. Loeb, Cambridge, 1947 [PA6156.082 1979x]. A.S. Kline publishes an eBook translation on his excellent Ovid and Others Site.
- Heroides and Amores, tr. Grant Showerman. Loeb, Cambridge, 1977 [PA6519.A2x 1977]. These are also available as as eBooks;Heroides and the Amores