Ovide among the Scythians was commissioned from Delacroix by Benoit Fould in March, 1856, but since 1849 the artist had been thinking of going back to this subject which he had already
treated in a pendentive of the Cupola of Poetry, in the Palais-Bourbon Library
Delacroix, in this canvas in which landscape plays so large a part, perfectly captured the sadness of this "barbarian" land. Small in size, the characters appear lost in the arid mountains of this desolate region. The prostrate attitude of the poet, lying on the ground, translates his despair, which the inhabitants of the country attempt to assuage with their presents. In showing a woman milking a mare in the foreground, the artist is alluding to a Classical tradition according to which the Scythians drank mare's milk.