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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index O > Publius Ovid Quotes

Thumbnail of Publius Ovid (source)
Publius Ovid
(20 Mar 43 B.C. - 17)

Roman poet who ranks with Virgil and Horace as one of the great poets of Latin literature.

Science Quotes by Publius Ovid (11 quotes)

Detail from engraving showing head and shoulders of a representation of Ovid, facing right, with decorative frame.
Frontispiece in Opera Omnia (1670) (source)
Publius Ovid quote Some wounds are made worse
Wall mural uncovered at Pompeii shows a Roman army medic using pinchers to remove an object from a soldier’s wound from before 79 a.d. (source)

Ante mare et terras et quod tegit omnia caelum
unus erat toto naturae vultus in orbe,
quem dixere chaos: rudis indigestaque moles
nec quicquam nisi pondus iners congestaque eodem
non bene iunctarum discordia semina rerum.

— Publius Ovid
The original Latin text of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, lines 5-9, in which he described the Creation of the universe. The Google translation engine gives this raw version: “In front of the sea, the sky and the earth, and that which covers all was one of the faces of the whole of nature in the world, which they called chaos: rough and unorganized mass he desires nothing but an inert weight, in the same discordant seeds of things not well joined.”
Science quotes on:  |  Chaos (76)  |  Creation (239)  |  Earth (635)  |  Inert (9)  |  Joined (3)  |  Mass (78)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Rough (6)  |  Sea (187)  |  Seed (62)  |  Sky (124)  |  Universe (683)  |  World (892)

Curando fieri quaedam majora videmus vulnera, quae melius non tetigisse fuit.
Some wounds are made worse by treatment, as we see: it had been better not to touch them.
— Publius Ovid
From Epistolae ex Ponto, III., 7, 25. Original Latin and translation in Arthur Leslie Wheeler (trans.), Ovid: With an English Translation: Tristia, Ex Ponto (1939), 416-417. Also seen translated as “Some wounds grow worse beneath the surgeon’s hand; ’Twere better that they were not touched at all” as in Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897), 39. [However, note that this is an artistic translation, not very literal; the words for surgeon or hand do not appear in the Latin text. The Google translation engine outputs this translation of the Latin: “We see greater things to be done taking care of the kind of wounds, which would be better not to touch them.” —Webmaster]
Science quotes on:  |  Better (190)  |  Surgery (43)  |  Touch (76)  |  Treatment (100)  |  Worse (23)  |  Wound (11)

At first, the sea, the earth, and the heaven, which covers all things, were the only face of nature throughout the whole universe, which men have named Chaos; a rude and undigested mass, and nothing more than an inert weight, and the discordant atoms of things not harmonizing, heaped together in the same spot.
— Publius Ovid
Describing the creation of the universe from chaos, at the beginning of Book I of Metamorphoses, lines 5-9. As translated by Henry T. Riley, The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Vol I: Books I-VII (1858), 1-2. Riley footnoted: “A rude and undigested mass.—Ver. 7. This is very similar to the words of the Scriptures, ‘And the earth was without form and void,’ Genesis, ch. i. ver. 2.”
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (280)  |  Chaos (76)  |  Creation (239)  |  Discord (10)  |  Earth (635)  |  Face (108)  |  First (313)  |  Harmonize (4)  |  Heap (14)  |  Heaven (151)  |  Inert (9)  |  Mass (78)  |  Name (165)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Nothing (385)  |  Rude (6)  |  Sea (187)  |  Throughout (2)  |  Together (77)  |  Undigested (2)  |  Universe (683)  |  Weight (75)

Before the seas and lands had been created, before the sky that covers everything, Nature displayed a single aspect only throughout the cosmos; Chaos was its name, a shapeless, unwrought mass of inert bulk and nothing more, with the discordant seeds of disconnected elements all heaped together in anarchic disarray.
— Publius Ovid
Describing the creation of the universe from chaos, at the beginning of Book I of Metamorphoses, lines 5-9. As translated in Charles Martin (trans.), Metamorphoses (2004), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Aspect (57)  |  Bulk (11)  |  Chaos (76)  |  Cosmos (52)  |  Cover (37)  |  Creation (239)  |  Disconnected (3)  |  Discord (10)  |  Display (24)  |  Element (162)  |  Everything (180)  |  Heap (14)  |  Inert (9)  |  Land (115)  |  Mass (78)  |  Name (165)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Nothing (385)  |  Sea (187)  |  Seed (62)  |  Single (119)  |  Sky (124)  |  Throughout (2)  |  Together (77)  |  Wrought (2)

Before the seas, and this terrestrial ball,
And Heav’n’s high canopy, that covers all,
One was the face of Nature; if a face:
Rather a rude and indigested mass:
A lifeless lump, unfashion’d, and unfram’d,
Of jarring seeds; and justly Chaos nam’d.
— Publius Ovid
As translated by John Dryden, et al. and Sir Samuel Garth (ed.), Metamorphoses (1998), 3. Ovid started writing the 14 books of Metamorphoses in about 1 a.d.. Dryden died in 1700. He had translated about one-third of the full Metamorphoses. His work was finished by others, and the translation was published in 1717.
Science quotes on:  |  Ball (31)  |  Canopy (4)  |  Chaos (76)  |  Cover (37)  |  Digested (2)  |  Face (108)  |  Frame (26)  |  Heaven (151)  |  Jar (9)  |  Justly (6)  |  Lifeless (11)  |  Lump (4)  |  Mass (78)  |  Name (165)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Rude (6)  |  Sea (187)  |  Seed (62)  |  Terrestrial (24)

Ere land and sea and the all-covering sky
Were made, in the whole world the countenance
Of nature was the same, all one, well named
Chaos, a raw and undivided mass,
Naught but a lifeless bulk, with warring seeds
Of ill-joined elements compressed together.
— Publius Ovid
Ovid’s description of the Creation of the universe at the beginning of Metamorphoses, Book I, lines 5-9, as translated in A.D. Melville (trans.), Ovid: Metamorphoses (1987), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Bulk (11)  |  Chaos (76)  |  Countenance (3)  |  Element (162)  |  Land (115)  |  Lifeless (11)  |  Nature (1211)  |  Origin Of Earth (9)  |  Raw (13)  |  Sea (187)  |  Seed (62)  |  Sky (124)  |  Undivided (3)  |  World (892)

Happy the men who made the first essay,
And to celestial regions found the way!
No earthly vices clogg’d their purer souls,
That they could soar so high as touch the poles:
Sublime their thoughts and from pollution clear,
Bacchus and Venus held no revels there;
From vain ambition free; no love of war
Possess’d their minds, nor wranglings at the bar;
No glaring grandeur captivates their eyes,
For such see greater glory in the skies:
Thus these to heaven attain.
— Publius Ovid
In Craufurd Tait Ramage (ed., trans.), Beautiful Thoughts From Latin Authors, with English Translations (1864),
Science quotes on:  |  Ambition (34)  |  Astronomer (68)  |  Attain (42)  |  Bacchus (2)  |  Captivate (3)  |  Celestial (21)  |  Eye (218)  |  Glare (3)  |  Glory (57)  |  Grandeur (21)  |  Greater (42)  |  Happy (46)  |  Heavens (18)  |  Mind (743)  |  Pole (17)  |  Pollution (43)  |  Revel (4)  |  See (369)  |  Sky (124)  |  Soar (15)  |  Soul (163)  |  Sublime (27)  |  Thought (536)  |  Vain (29)  |  Venus (15)  |  Vice (17)  |  War (161)

Man looks aloft, and with erected eyes, beholds his hereditary skies.
— Publius Ovid
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Aloft (5)  |  Behold (18)  |  Erect (6)  |  Eye (218)  |  Hereditary (7)  |  Sky (124)

Medicine sometimes snatches away health, sometimes gives it.
— Publius Ovid
From 'Tristia' (9 A.D.), 2, 269. As quoted in Latin, cited and translated to English in W. Gurney Benham (ed.), A Book of Quotations, Proverbs and Household Words (1907), 527. From the original Latin, “Eripit interdum, modo de medicina saluterem”. Also translated as, “Medicine sometimes brings health, sometimes removes it,” in Ovid and A.D. Melville (trans.), Sorrows of an exile: Tristia (1992), 33.
Science quotes on:  |  Give (200)  |  Health (153)  |  Medicine (343)  |  Snatch (4)  |  Sometimes (43)

Nothing in the entire universe ever perishes, believe me, but things vary, and adopt a new form. The phrase “being born” is used for beginning to be something different from what one was before, while “dying” means ceasing to be the same. Though this thing may pass into that, and that into this, yet the sums of things remains unchanged.
— Publius Ovid
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Adopt (18)  |  Bear (66)  |  Begin (106)  |  Belief (503)  |  Cease (37)  |  Die (81)  |  Different (178)  |  Entire (46)  |  Form (308)  |  Means (171)  |  New (483)  |  Nothing (385)  |  Pass (91)  |  Perish (29)  |  Phrase (28)  |  Remain (111)  |  Same (155)  |  Sum (41)  |  Unchanged (3)  |  Universe (683)  |  Vary (25)

Tis not always in a physician’s power to cure the sick; at times the disease is stronger than trained art.
— Publius Ovid
Ovid and Arthur Leslie Wheeler (trans.), Ovid Tristia Ex Ponto (2007), 281.
Science quotes on:  |  Cure (96)  |  Disease (275)  |  Physician (241)



Quotes by others about Publius Ovid (2)

Why is it that the self-aggrandizements of Cicero, the lecheries and whining of Ovid and the blatherings of that debauched old goose Seneca made it onto the Net before the works that give us solid technical information about what Rome was really good at, viz. the construction of her great buildings and works of engineering?
From headnotes written by Bill Thayer to his online transcription of Vitruvius: On Architecture.
Science quotes on:  |  Aggrandizement (2)  |  Architecture (43)  |  Book (257)  |  Buildings (4)  |  Marcus Tullius Cicero (34)  |  Construction (83)  |  Debauched (2)  |  Engineering (141)  |  Goose (11)  |  Great (524)  |  Information (121)  |  Internet (14)  |  Roman (27)  |  Lucius Annaeus Seneca (19)  |  Technical (40)  |  Vitruvius (28)

Particular and contingent inventions in the solution of problems, which, though many times more concise than a general method would allow, yet, in my judgment, are less proper to instruct a learner, as acrostics, and such kind of artificial poetry, though never so excellent, would be but improper examples to instruct one that aims at Ovidean poetry.
In Letter to Collins (Macclesfield, 1670), Correspondence of Scientific Men (1841), Vol. 2, 307.
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See also:
  • Publius Ovid - context of quote “Some wounds are made worse” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Publius Ovid - context of quote “Some wounds are made worse” - Large image (800 x 600 px)

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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