OVID: Loves, Myths and Other Stories

Bimillennial of Ovid celebrated at Scuderie del Quirinale in Rome.

Nel bimillenario della morte del sommo poeta latino Publio Ovidio Nasone, le Scuderie del Quirinale hanno dedicato al poeta-maestro delle trasfigurazioni la bellissima mostra “Ovidio. Amori, miti e altre stori” per celebrare la sua opera ed i suoi infiniti rimandi in rappresentazioni figurate tanto antiche quanto moderne. 250 tra dipinti, sculture, affreschi e rarissimi manoscritti sono stati prestati da circa 80 musei tra italiani e internazionali per dar vita alla mostra.  

During a few days off in my hometown of Rome over Christmas, I had a chance to see a beautiful exhibition presented  during the celebrations for the Ovidian bi-millenary. Under the title “Love, myths and other stories,” the exhibition “Ovidio” at the Scuderie del Quirinale was dedicated to the life, work and legacy of Ovid. The show explored the central themes of Ovid’s writings: love, seduction and the relationship between power and myth. The display included roughly 250 works, among which were frescoes and ancient sculptures, precious medieval manuscripts and paintings of the modern age, bringing to the public eye the culture of the early imperial age, reconstructed through the filtering of the Ovidian texts. Among the authors of antiquity, Publio Ovidio Nasone is undoubtedly one of the most beloved. For 2,000 years, his verses, which speak to us of love or which narrate the adventurous stories of the gods, give us back the image of a living, passionate world, sensitive to beauty in all its forms. He is also the author of fundamental works for all Western literature such as the “Metamorphoses,” the “Fasti” and the “Heroides,” writings from which all the greatest poets and writers in history have drawn, from Dante Alighieri to William Shakespeare. The exhibition featured a biographical profile of the protagonist, his literary production and his complex relationship with the Emperor Augustus, who condemned him to a harsh exile in Crimea. The exhibition continued with his feminine world, the seduction and the reconstruction of the atmosphere in which Ovidio produced his masterpieces in Rome. Finally, in the third part of the exhibition, visitors crossed the immense fortune of his stories, selected above all by the “Metamorphoses” and represented in the exhibition with paintings, sculptures, cameos, goldsmith’s items, frescoes, and books on loan from about 80 Italian and international museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, Uffizi of Florence, the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, as well as precious rarities from the Gotha Library in Germany, the Archaeological Museum of Eretria in Greece and the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen.

The Scuderie del Quirinale (also called Papal Stables), the exhibition’s site, was built over a 10 year period between 1722 and 1732. The facility was remodeled in the late 1990’s by architect Gae Aulenti. Together with the Palazzo del Quirinale, official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, and the Palazzo della Consulta (the Constitutional Court), the Scuderie make up a stunning urban space. At the center of the spacious piazza between these three buildings stands an obelisk atop a fountain with the famous statues of the Dioscuri, the two gigantic Roman marble “Horse Tamers” Castor and Pollux.
The Scuderie stands next to the Colonna gardens and on top of the archeological remains of the great Roman Temple of Serapide, some of which are still visible.

The imposing building structure covers approximately 3,000 sq. mt. over several floors. Wide-open spaces on the second and third floors house the exhibitions. When exiting the exhibition space on the top floor, the staircase with glass panels provides a stunning view over the city.