Amores is Ovid's first completed book, published in 16 BC in 5 volumes, though only three are extant. Amores was written in the elegiac distich. The book follows the model of the erotic elegy–perhaps the most common theme of the time–as treated before by Tibullus and Propertius, but often in a subversive and humorous way, with common motifs and devices being exaggerated to the point of absurdity. However, the Amores could also be considered a mock epic.
Amores I.1 begins with the same word as the Aeneid, "Arma" (an intentional comparison to the epic genre, which Ovid later mocks), as the poet describes his original intention: to write an epic poem in dactylic hexameter, "with material suiting the meter" (line 2), that is, war. However, Cupid "steals one (metrical) foot" (unum suripuisse pedem, I.1 ln 4), turning it into elegiac couplets, the meter of love poetry.
Ovid returns to the theme of war several times throughout the Amores, especially in Chapter Nine of Book I, an extended metaphor comparing soldiers and lovers ("Militat omnis amans", "every lover is a soldier" I.9 ln 1).
Like the other poets, the book centres in a romantic affair between the poet and a puella (Latin for girl): Corinna. This Corinna is unlikely to have really lived, seen by changing depictions of her character; it seems she is Ovid's poetical creation, loosely based on a Greek poet of the same name; or a generalised motif of female Roman mistresses. The name Corinna may also have been a typically Ovidian pun based on the Greek word for "maiden", "kore". Amores develops as a sort of "novel", breaking style only a few times (the most famous occasion being the elegy on Tibellus' death). For many this is a sign of weakness, but for others it shows Ovid chose the rhetorical locus communis in order to demonstrate his poetical craft.
General scholarly approach has emphasised its humour and poetical composition which is regarded as excellent.
Though most of this book is rather tongue-in-cheek, some people didn't take it that way and this could be the reason or part of the reason why Ovid was banished from Rome. However, his banishment probably has more to do with the Ars Amatoria, written later, which offended Augustus, the first Imperator. There is also a connection between Ovid and Augustus' niece, Julia, who was also exiled.
There is a famous English verse translation made by Christopher Marlowe.