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Myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses PDF, ePub eBook This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most impor This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Smalter Hall

    I bought this copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses when I was living in Rome. It's the book I was reading on the plane when I left Rome, as the realization sunk in that an awesome and strange adventure was drawing to a close, and it's the book I was still reading when I moved back to Minneapolis and attempted to readjust to life as a Midwestern college undergrad. I was reading Metamorphoses at the cafe a few blocks away from my apartment when a strange man gave me that little terror of a kitten, Monster. I bought this copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses when I was living in Rome. It's the book I was reading on the plane when I left Rome, as the realization sunk in that an awesome and strange adventure was drawing to a close, and it's the book I was still reading when I moved back to Minneapolis and attempted to readjust to life as a Midwestern college undergrad. I was reading Metamorphoses at the cafe a few blocks away from my apartment when a strange man gave me that little terror of a kitten, Monster. And Monster used to bite my toes when I was reading Metamorphoses in bed. I was in love, so much in love, when I read Metamorphoses, with someone I would surely never meet again. And I was so lonely. And Metamorphoses was just beautiful, all the forlorn humans going up against the gods, only to be transformed into plants, animals, birds~ To read the great Roman poet while living in Rome, and to continue reading him while you are in mourning for the city once it's gone ~ was outrageous. In the best way. Grand. Epic. Eternal.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Vit Babenco

    Book the First: “Of bodies chang’d to various forms, I sing” The world is a constant changes… Everything moves and one thing always changes into the other. The earth was created by the god unknown as a sphere hanging in space… And life there was an idyll: no crimes, no enmity no wars… “From veins of vallies, milk and nectar broke; And honey sweating through the pores of oak.” But then the human history started and the deterioration began… “Truth, modesty, and shame, the world forsook: Fraud, avari Book the First: “Of bodies chang’d to various forms, I sing” The world is a constant changes… Everything moves and one thing always changes into the other. The earth was created by the god unknown as a sphere hanging in space… And life there was an idyll: no crimes, no enmity no wars… “From veins of vallies, milk and nectar broke; And honey sweating through the pores of oak.” But then the human history started and the deterioration began… “Truth, modesty, and shame, the world forsook: Fraud, avarice, and force, their places took.” Sins multiply and on observing the cases of cannibalism, Jove decides to destroy the sinful seed with the global deluge and to plant new generation of human beings sowing stones and turning them into males and females… “What the man threw, assum’d a manly face; And what the wife, renew’d the female race.” And then the multiple, fantastic and fabulous metamorphoses of deities commenced… Changes, alterations, transformations… Book the Second: Now it’s time for incompetent Phaeton to take his disastrous trip through the sky… “Th’ astonisht youth, where-e’er his eyes cou’d turn, Beheld the universe around him burn: The world was in a blaze; nor cou’d he bear The sultry vapours and the scorching air…” And the corresponding place in the Bible: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven…” Genesis 19:24. Both events are probably the references to the Minoan eruption of Thera, which was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption. Dated to the mid-second millennium BCE, the eruption was one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history. Arrogant deities keep intriguing, fornicating and stealing shamelessly… And they are ready to use any means… “Livid and meagre were her looks, her eye In foul distorted glances turn’d awry; A hoard of gall her inward parts possess’d, And spread a greenness o’er her canker’d breast; Her teeth were brown with rust, and from her tongue, In dangling drops, the stringy poison hung.” This description of Envy is flowery and magnificent. Deception and revenge are the way of Gods… Book the Third: No one, except the major deities, is safe from a pernicious metamorphosis and fatal perishment. Transformations are miraculous and unpredictable: Actaeon into a stag; Tiresias into a woman; Narcissus into a flower; Echo into an incorporeal voice and mariners into dolphins… The archetype of dragon seems to have been known since the most ancient times… And the sowing of the dragon’s teeth have afterwards become the attribute of many fairytales: “He sows the teeth at Pallas’s command, And flings the future people from his hand.” The story of Tiresias as an arbiter of male and female sexual pleasures is the most picturesque: “‘The sense of pleasure in the male is far More dull and dead, than what you females share.’ Juno the truth of what was said deny’d; Tiresias therefore must the cause decide, For he the pleasure of each sex had try’d.” Much earlier Tiresias appears in Homer’s Odyssey as a prophetic ghost in the land of the dead: “Then came also the ghost of Theban Teiresias, with his golden sceptre in his hand. He knew me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, why, poor man, have you left the light of day and come down to visit the dead in this sad place? Stand back from the trench and withdraw your sword that I may drink of the blood and answer your questions truly.' So I drew back, and sheathed my sword, whereon when he had drank of the blood he began with his prophecy.” In the last century Tiresias was mentioned in the progressive rock song The Cinema Show by Genesis: “Once a man, like the sea I raged, Once a woman, like the earth I gave.” The tale of Narcissus is an allegory of egocentrism and the story of Pentheus is a fable of the foolish obduracy. Book the Fourth: An intrigue of The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe, especially in the end, reminds of that in Romeo and Juliet: “Then in his breast his shining sword he drown’d, And fell supine, extended on the ground. As out again the blade lie dying drew, Out spun the blood, and streaming upwards flew.” Now it is clear where the inspiration came from. “As when the stock and grafted twig combin’d Shoot up the same, and wear a common rind: Both bodies in a single body mix, A single body with a double sex.” The image of Hermaphroditus was integrated both in poetry and in modern pop culture. “Where between sleep and life some brief space is, With love like gold bound round about the head, Sex to sweet sex with lips and limbs is wed, Turning the fruitful feud of hers and his To the waste wedlock of a sterile kiss…” Algernon Charles Swinburne – Hermaphroditus “From a dense forest of tall dark pinewood, Mount Ida rises like an island. Within a hidden cave, nymphs had kept a child; Hermaphroditus, son of gods, so afraid of their love.” Genesis – The Fountain of Salmacis The gods have a rich imagination and a wry sense of humour so the miraculous changes they work on the others are unpredictable. Book the Fifth: The description of the massacre at the feast is a pure satire… Who can be a match for Perseus possessing such a mighty weapon of mass destruction as Medusa’s head? “Weak was th’ usurper, as his cause was wrong; Where Gorgon’s head appears, what arms are strong? When Perseus to his host the monster held, They soon were statues, and their king expell’d.” Lewd Pyreneus decided to keep all the Muses in his private harem but they turned into birds and flew away while the unlucky libertine lacking creative imagination just fell from a tower: “Then, in a flying posture wildly plac’d, And daring from that height himself to cast, The wretch fell headlong, and the ground bestrew’d With broken bones, and stains of guilty blood.” And the tale of Ceres and Proserpine is one of the archetypal myths explaining the existence of seasons: “Jove some amends for Ceres lost to make, Yet willing Pluto shou’d the joy partake, Gives ’em of Proserpine an equal share, Who, claim’d by both, with both divides the year. The Goddess now in either empire sways, Six moons in Hell, and six with Ceres stays.” Book the Sixth: In the tales of Arachne and Niobe Ovid just ridicules the vainglory and smugness of gods and their unmotivated cruelty too: “Next she design’d Asteria’s fabled rape, When Jove assum’d a soaring eagle’s shape: And shew’d how Leda lay supinely press’d, Whilst the soft snowy swan sate hov’ring o’er her breast, How in a satyr’s form the God beguil’d, When fair Antiope with twins he fill’d. Then, like Amphytrion, but a real Jove, In fair Alcmena’s arms he cool’d his love.” Arachne’s tapestry is a set of sheer evidences against gods’ lechery and she has obviously won but Goddess in fury destroyed the masterpiece and turned Arachne into a spider: “This the bright Goddess passionately mov’d, With envy saw, yet inwardly approv’d. The scene of heav’nly guilt with haste she tore, Nor longer the affront with patience bore; A boxen shuttle in her hand she took, And more than once Arachne’s forehead struck.” And so it is with a coldblooded murder of Niobe’s children. The tale of Tereus, Procne and Philomela is something like a horror mystery told in the goriest hues: “But soon her tongue the girding pinchers strain, With anguish, soon she feels the piercing pain: Oh father! father! would fain have spoke, But the sharp torture her intention broke; In vain she tries, for now the blade has cut Her tongue sheer off, close to the trembling root.” This book is a very sanguinary one. Book the Seventh: Medea knows her witchcraft: “In a large cauldron now the med’cine boils, Compounded of her late-collected spoils, Blending into the mesh the various pow’rs Of wonder-working juices, roots, and flow’rs; With gems i’ th’ eastern ocean’s cell refin’d, And such as ebbing tides had left behind; To them the midnight’s pearly dew she flings, A scretch-owl’s carcase, and ill boding wings; Nor could the wizard wolf’s warm entrails scape (That wolf who counterfeits a human shape).” “Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing, For a charm of pow’rful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.” William Shakespeare – Macbeth The methods of witches and their cooking recipes hardly changed since Ovid’s time. This book seems to be less impressive than the previous ones. Book the Eighth: The greater part of the book is the tales of traitorous Scylla and hunting for the ferocious boar. The most famous legends of Minotaur: “These private walls the Minotaur include, Who twice was glutted with Athenian blood: But the third tribute more successful prov’d, Slew the foul monster, and the plague remov’d. When Theseus, aided by the virgin’s art, Had trac’d the guiding thread thro’ ev’ry part, He took the gentle maid, that set him free, And, bound for Dias, cut the briny sea. There, quickly cloy’d, ungrateful, and unkind, Left his fair consort in the isle behind…” and Icarus: “When now the boy, whose childish thoughts aspire To loftier aims, and make him ramble high’r, Grown wild, and wanton, more embolden’d flies Far from his guide, and soars among the skies. The soft’ning wax, that felt a nearer sun, Dissolv’d apace, and soon began to run. The youth in vain his melting pinions shakes, His feathers gone, no longer air he takes: Oh! Father, father, as he strove to cry, Down to the sea he tumbled from on high, And found his Fate; yet still subsists by fame, Among those waters that retain his name.” are told just en passant… And the beautiful story of Philemon and Baucis is most warmhearted and even romantic. Book the Ninth: Vicissitudes of love keep ruling over both gods and mortals… I liked how an origin of cornucopia was described: “Nor yet his fury cool’d; ’twixt rage and scorn, From my maim’d front he tore the stubborn horn: This, heap’d with flow’rs, and fruits, the Naiads bear, Sacred to plenty, and the bounteous year.” And the process of turning of Heracles into a constellation was beautiful: “So when Alcides mortal mold resign’d, His better part enlarg’d, and grew refin’d; August his visage shone; almighty Jove In his swift carr his honour’d offspring drove; High o’er the hollow clouds the coursers fly, And lodge the hero in the starry sky.” I especially enjoyed the tale of Iphis and Ianthe. Even Egyptian goddess Isis had her finger in the pie – she assisted two girls in love with each other transforming one of them into a youth making thus their love legal: “Not much in fear, nor fully satisfy’d; But Iphis follow’d with a larger stride: The whiteness of her skin forsook her face; Her looks embolden’d with an awful grace; Her features, and her strength together grew, And her long hair to curling locks withdrew. Her sparkling eyes with manly vigour shone, Big was her voice, audacious was her tone. The latent parts, at length reveal’d, began To shoot, and spread, and burnish into man. The maid becomes a youth; no more delay Your vows, but look, and confidently pay.” All we need is love… Book the Tenth: Story of Orpheus and Eurydice seems to be most popular in the world of poetry, arts, literature and even music. And “Never look back” is also an archetypal motif in myths, the Bible (Lot’s wife) and many fairytales all over the world: “They well-nigh now had pass’d the bounds of night, And just approach’d the margin of the light, When he, mistrusting lest her steps might stray, And gladsome of the glympse of dawning day, His longing eyes, impatient, backward cast To catch a lover’s look, but look’d his last; For, instant dying, she again descends, While he to empty air his arms extends.” Pygmalion carved his statue in ivory: “Yet fearing idleness, the nurse of ill, In sculpture exercis’d his happy skill; And carv’d in iv’ry such a maid, so fair, As Nature could not with his art compare…” so it couldn’t be bigger than a figurine or a statuette but the story goes as if it were lifesize. And the clinical case of Myrrha’s incestual lust is told in a weird psychoanalytical style of Sigmund Freud. And anemone is an extremely anemic flower: “Still here the Fate of lovely forms we see, So sudden fades the sweet Anemonie. The feeble stems, to stormy blasts a prey, Their sickly beauties droop, and pine away.” Book the Eleventh: Orpheus has met the bitter end – he was ripped to shreds by drunken Maenads: “His mangled limbs lay scatter’d all around, His head, and harp a better fortune found; In Hebrus’ streams they gently roul’d along, And sooth’d the waters with a mournful song.” Somehow, this reminded me of the mass hysteria of the Beatles’ concerts in the middle of the sixties… Ever since my childhood I was fascinated with the fable of King Midas – I enjoyed both his golden touch foolishness: “He pluck’d the corn, and strait his grasp appears Fill’d with a bending tuft of golden ears,” and his award of ass’s ears: “Fix’d on his noddle an unseemly pair, Flagging, and large, and full of whitish hair; Without a total change from what he was, Still in the man preserves the simple ass.” “Pan tun’d the pipe, and with his rural song Pleas’d the low taste of all the vulgar throng; Such songs a vulgar judgment mostly please, Midas was there, and Midas judg’d with these.” It reads exactly as if Ovid portrayed the showbiz and music critics of today. And Ceyx’s hapless attempt at seafaring is in a way quite antithetical to The Odyssey: “An universal cry resounds aloud, The sailors run in heaps, a helpless crowd; Art fails, and courage falls, no succour near; As many waves, as many deaths appear.” The sea always was a merciless widow-maker.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    "Throughout all ages, If poets have vision to prophesy truth, I shall live in my Fame." Thus the closing lines of Ovid's "Metamorphoses". He was certainly right in his statement, but it feels like an appropriate irony that his work has been transformed, metamorphosed, over the millennia since he wrote his compilation of Roman and Greek literature. I have known most of the collected stories since my early days at university, but only now finished reading the "Metamorphoses" as a whole, from cover "Throughout all ages, If poets have vision to prophesy truth, I shall live in my Fame." Thus the closing lines of Ovid's "Metamorphoses". He was certainly right in his statement, but it feels like an appropriate irony that his work has been transformed, metamorphosed, over the millennia since he wrote his compilation of Roman and Greek literature. I have known most of the collected stories since my early days at university, but only now finished reading the "Metamorphoses" as a whole, from cover to cover, and my impression is that Ovid's fame is mostly due to the brilliant interpretation of his text by European visual artists over the centuries. Through the metamorphosis from text to visual art, Ovid has stayed famous. Bernini's "Apollo and Daphne" symbolises it more accurately than any other myth retold in the collection: a god chasing a young nymph, who slowly transforms into a laurel tree to avoid sexual assault, only to find herself the eternal symbol of Apollo's high status, and the honorable prize for literary or artistic fame. Ovid is resting on those laurels, wearing his Apollonian laurel wreath - as is Bernini, who can proudly compete with Pygmalion in the skill with which he made the marble leaves come alive, transforming hard stone into delicate art. I knew I would be going on a tour through art history when I embarked on the Ovid journey, and I enjoyed every minute of it, often reading with a pile of art books next to me. As a pleasant extra surprise, I found myself revisiting several favourite Greek plays from a different narrative perspective, focusing on the transforming powers of dramatic storytelling rather than on unity of time, place and action. Hercules' story unfolded from a new angle, as did many of the Trojan and Minoan adventures. After finishing Virgil's The Aeneid a couple of months ago, the short summary of Aeneas' adventures was welcome as well. Generally speaking, the "Metamorphoses" can be viewed as a Who's Who in the Ancient Roman and Greek cosmos, with a clear bias in favour of the Roman empire and its virtues. There are fewer long fight scenes than in the Iliad or the Aeneid, which makes it a more pleasant, less repetitive narrative, once the Centaurs and Lapiths are done with their violent duties. After decades of immersing myself in the world of ancient mythology, I found the "Metamorphoses" to be an easy and lighthearted reading experience. When I read excerpts from it during my early university years, I struggled to recognise and place all those famous characters. It is a matter of being able to see the context, and background knowledge is a clear advantage. I just wish my Latin was strong enough- it must be a special pleasure to read it in original! Claude opus!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    1000. Metamorphōseōn librī = The Metamorphoses = Books of Transformations, Ovid The Metamorphoses is a Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid, considered his magnum opus. Comprising 11,995 lines, 15 books and over 250 myths, the poem chronicles the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythic-historical framework. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و نهم ژانویه سال 2014 میلادی عنوان: افسانههای دگردیسی اوید، اثر: پوبلیوس اویدیوس نسو؛ برگردان: میرجلا 1000. Metamorphōseōn librī = The Metamorphoses = Books of Transformations, Ovid The Metamorphoses is a Latin narrative poem by the Roman poet Ovid, considered his magnum opus. Comprising 11,995 lines, 15 books and over 250 myths, the poem chronicles the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythic-historical framework. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و نهم ژانویه سال 2014 میلادی ‏عنوان: افسانه‌های دگردیسی اوید، اثر: پوبلیوس اویدیوس نسو؛ برگردان: میرجلال‌ الدین کزازی، نشر: تهران، معین، چاپ نخست سال 1389، در 622 صفحه، شابک: 9789641650348، ‏موضوع: شعر رومی (لاتین) -- ترجمه شده به فارسی - سده نخست پیش از میلاد اووید، یکی از نام‌ آورترین سخنوران «رومی»، یا همان «لاتین» است، و می‌توان ایشان را، پس از «ویرژیل»، و «هومر»، پرآوازه‌ ترین سخن‌سرای لاتین نامید. «افسانه‌ های دگردیسی»، در «پنجاه بخش» به نظم درآمده، که «اووید» هر بخش را، کتاب نامیده، و کوشیده افسانه‌ هایی از انواع «دگردیسی» را، در آن شرح دهد. در این افسانه‌ ها به همه‌ گونه دگردیسی برمی‌خوریم، از دگردیسی آدم به جانداری دیگر، تا دگردیسی انسان به سنگ و کانی بی جان. کتاب، برگردان سروده‌ های «اووید»، و شرح «افسانه‌ های دگردیسی اووید» به زبان پارسایی است. ا. شربیانی

  5. 5 out of 5

    Best Eggs

    I just had to quote this from a review I read: "DNF at almost halfway through. Too much depravity and immorality for me." There's a lot of depravity and immorality around now too. How does one cope? lol Perhaps they would have disagreed with the author of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free ? (I don't think I should recommend one of my favourite dirty books, the beautifully-written, utterly depraved (although surprisingly moral, depen I just had to quote this from a review I read: "DNF at almost halfway through. Too much depravity and immorality for me." There's a lot of depravity and immorality around now too. How does one cope? lol Perhaps they would have disagreed with the author of Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free ? (I don't think I should recommend one of my favourite dirty books, the beautifully-written, utterly depraved (although surprisingly moral, depending on your point of view) Story of O

  6. 4 out of 5

    C

    What the fuck Ovid. Save some brilliance for the rest of us.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elise (TheBookishActress)

    There's honestly something deeply fascinating to me about reading the words of someone who lived 2000 years ago, who wrote these exact words 2000 years ago, and though I completely understand why reading translation is done - I think reading translated lit is amazing - it is undoubtedly more interesting to read this word-by-word, to see connotations and derivatives and line breaks and literary devices. So yes, I read this in the original Latin! With the help of a lot of vocabulary lists because There's honestly something deeply fascinating to me about reading the words of someone who lived 2000 years ago, who wrote these exact words 2000 years ago, and though I completely understand why reading translation is done - I think reading translated lit is amazing - it is undoubtedly more interesting to read this word-by-word, to see connotations and derivatives and line breaks and literary devices. So yes, I read this in the original Latin! With the help of a lot of vocabulary lists because I don’t speak Latin as fluently as I would like to. (Shouldn’t passing an AP exam make you fluent? Anyway.) Ovid’s language is... so good. Some story reviews follow: Deucalion & Pyrrha, 1.348-415 This is the story of an apocalypse, or in this case, a failed apocalypse. This is the story of a world empty “inanem” and of two lovers at its fall, attempting to bring it back. The language of this is so sweepingly gorgeous; the image of Deucalion and Pyrrha in front of the Themis’ watered-down altar is deeply satisfying. Very Adam-and-Eve and very satisfying. Daphne & Apollo, 1.452-657 Daphne and Apollo is a story that would be cool to see done by like, Catullus. (Poem 64 the only bitch in this house I respect!!) In general conceit, it is about a woman who does not want to get married being chased down by a man who just really wants to have sex with her until she turns herself into a tree. And there’s definitely an air of blaming her for beauty here: the line “but that beauty forbids you to be that which you wish, and your form [beauty] opposes your desire” is fucked up and sad, as well as the ending “destroy by changing my beauty by which I please too much”. The best thing that can be said about this is that the line “let your bow strike everything, oh Phoebus, but let my bow strike you” is so satisfying. Jupiter & Io, 1.583-746 I absolutely hate this story. This is the one where I decided that he needs to avoid the women-being-chased and-maybe-raped but-I-will-mention-this-with-exactly-one-word thing (“rapuit”). In a situation even more egregious than that of Daphne and Apollo, she is given no character development whatsoever and the general story just angers me, up until around line 630, where she attempts to talk to her father Inachus: “She came to the riverbanks, where she was accustomed to play often, and when she saw in the water, her new horns, she grew frightened and fled having been terrified of herself” — the repetition of the riverbanks here is especially arresting. I did find this line sort of satisfying: “...It is cruel to surrender his love, but suspicious not to give; it is shame, what would urge him from that, Amor dissuades this. Shame would would have been conquered by Love, but if this trivial gift were refused to the companion of his race and bed as a heifer, it would be able to appear to be no heifer.” (617-621) The Ride of Phaethon, 2.150-339 This one is wonderful. I really enjoyed the figurative language and dramatic, ironic setup of this story: the horses hit the doors with their feet (155) and then snatch the path (158). The chariot being shaken on high (166) is a great detail, and the journey into the rapidly-heating constellations is just incredible (and not just incredibly hard to translate). Lots of apostrophe and several rhetorical questions build this into a gorgeous story. I absolutely adored this set of lines: “I am bemoaning the lesser things: great cities destruct with their walls, / and with their peoples the fires [whole nations] / turn into ashes; and the forests along with the mountains burn” (214-216) This section was so good that I forgave it for meaning I had to learn almost 200 lines of translation in a month for a test. Me & my 96 on the test say hi!! Pyramus & Thisbe, 4.55-166 “Pyramus and Thisbe, the one the most handsome of youths, the other outstanding… that which they were not able to deny, equally they both burned with their minds captured.” Ah, Pyramus and Thisbe, the original tragic lovers. The only context I have seen this story appear in previously is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a version that is deeply comedic. But this story is, despite some stupidity in plot, so well written. “This flaw had been noted by no one through the long years… but what does love not detect?” Ovid asks; this love affair seems almost inevitable, deeply wrapped around fate and tragedy. “How difficult would it be, that you could allow us to be joined with whole bodies, or, if this is too-much, that you should open this wall for kisses to be given?” Of course, this story ends badly. And it is Pyramus’ fault. Thisbe is a bitch with common sense and did nothing wrong. The Fall of Icarus, 8.152-235 “The shame of the family had grown, and was exposing / the disgusting adultery of his mother by the novelty of the two-formed monster...” THE FALL OF ICARUS!! Okay this has always been one of my favorite stories of all time, and reading it in Ovid’s original Latin was such a cool experience. This story is framed by a description and depiction of the tragedy of the minotaur and the abandonment of poor Ariadne (#Catulluspoem64). I loved Daedalus' intro for his plan: “it is permitted that he block the land and sea / but certainly the sky lies open; we will go that way...” And the fall of Icarus is equally emotional, beautifully conveyed through the image of a herder and fisherman watching him, up to its ending: “and his lips, shouting out the name of his father / are taken up by the blue water, water which has taken up its name from him.” Anyway, I hope y’all appreciated my original Latin translation skills pouring into this review. I SPEND A LOT OF TIME THINKING ABOUT LATIN AND I'M HONESTLY SO PROUD TO BE SHARING IT. Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    The great thing about Ovid's “Metamorphoses” is that it doesn't force you to take it so seriously. It’s still remarkably vivid, considering its age, and there is hardly a dull moment in it. You can actually read it just for pure pleasure. Its wild stories about transformations from one shape to another can be so entertaining, that your first reaction in reading it probably won't be to ask yourself weighty questions like "Hmm, I wonder what insights this ancient book offers into the structure of The great thing about Ovid's “Metamorphoses” is that it doesn't force you to take it so seriously. It’s still remarkably vivid, considering its age, and there is hardly a dull moment in it. You can actually read it just for pure pleasure. Its wild stories about transformations from one shape to another can be so entertaining, that your first reaction in reading it probably won't be to ask yourself weighty questions like "Hmm, I wonder what insights this ancient book offers into the structure of the cosmos, or the essence of existence, or the development of the human imagination?" Well… it just so happens that Ovid's poem does offer insights into all of these things -- but you can think of the deeper levels as an added bonus! Basically, the poem's answer lies in its central theme of "change". For Ovid, the physical world is constantly changing, and so is human life (through birth and death, love, hatred, achievement, and failure). Most important, however, is his portrayal of the human imagination – not so much because of anything he says about it, but because of how he puts it into action. You'd be hard-pressed to find any other author, ancient or modern, who is so bursting with ideas about how to tell a story. “Metamorphoses” is a wide-ranging account of Greek and Roman mythology, and this epic of transformations is itself -- one continuous transformation. One moment you’re reading one story, and then realize with a start, that you’re in the middle of the next one. By the slightest of hand, Ovid has used one character,or location, or detail in the first tale to segue into the next. Like the stones rising into men and women, or Arachne’s shrinking into a spider, the poem is in a constant state of flux. It is a technique that, irony of ironies --gives the work its permanence and coherence. Being familiar with most of the stories, I have noticed that Ovid isn't giving a straightforward retelling of the myths. Instead, he is constantly twisting them around to his own purposes, making them look ridiculous, or fixating on details that are strange or grotesque. I think he pulled this off quite well with a witty and humorous tone. By keeping things light, he lets the reader in on the joke. At the same time, however, Ovid also deals with some pretty heavy stuff, and sometimes he does seem to take a strange amount of pleasure in his characters' suffering. I rarely witness comedy and tragedy work so well together as in this book. I think this is one of the books you need to read in your lifetime. Don’t let its heft intimidate you, you don't even have to read it all the way through. If you want a taste of what it's about, you can pretty much start anywhere you want, or just look in the index to find your favorite myths, and go straight to those. In this way, it's sort of like an all-you-can-eat buffet -- with the difference that, once you get hooked, you're likely to go ahead and eat the whole thing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    To read this in English is to not have read it. The few Latin verses I could read and understand were more pleasurable than all the wonderful myths and twisted fates. The verses take the form of what it describes, they flow or pause or rear up along with its subject. The translation feels beautiful at those rare times when I can call to mind some of the great works of art inspired by those artists who loved and lived these verses. No statues were made by artists inspired by translations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Sex, violence, and humor are often painted as low and primitive: the signs of a failing culture. Yet it is only in cultures with a strong economy and a substantial underclass that such practices can rise from duty to pastime. As Knox's introduction reminds us, Ovid's time was one of pervasive divorce, permissive laws, and open adultery, and our humble author participated in all of them. Eventually, the grand tyrant closed his fist over the upper classes, exerting social controls and invoking the Sex, violence, and humor are often painted as low and primitive: the signs of a failing culture. Yet it is only in cultures with a strong economy and a substantial underclass that such practices can rise from duty to pastime. As Knox's introduction reminds us, Ovid's time was one of pervasive divorce, permissive laws, and open adultery, and our humble author participated in all of them. Eventually, the grand tyrant closed his fist over the upper classes, exerting social controls and invoking the moral standard of an imagined 'golden age' in order to snatch power and discredit his rivals. Though already a popular and influential author and speaker, Ovid was exiled for being wanton and clever--either one he could have gotten away with, but both was too much. Both he and Virgil were sent to the extremities of the empire by Augustus, and both wrote epics to equal Homer's. While Virgil's was a capitulation to the emperor, honoring his fictitious lineage and equating heroism with duty, Ovid's was a sly, labyrinthine re-imagining of classic tales, drawing equally on the gold of Olympus' brow and the muck between a harlot's toes. Ovid remained more coy about his dirt than Apuleius or Seneca, maintaining plausible deniability with irony and entendre throughout the complex work. Every view, vision, and opinion is put forth at some point, and very rarely are they played straight. Ovid's characters are remarkable creations, each one a subversion of the familiar legend that surrounds them. Of course, by this point many of us are more familiar with Ovid's versions than the ones he was making light of. Virgil inspired the proud, righteous men of words: Dante, Tasso, Milton. Ovid created a style for the tricksters and the conflicted: Petrarch, Donne, Shakespeare, Ariosto, Rabelais. Each of Ovid's myths was a discrete vision, not only by plot, but by theme. His tales were not simply presentations of ideas, but explorations that turned back on themselves over and over. The metaphysical poets would come to adopt this style, creating short works that explored themes, even ritualizing the idea's reversal in the sonnet's volta. The active, visual nature of Ovid was a progression from the extended metaphors of the philosophers to what could be called a true conceit: a symbolic representation at once supportive of and in conflict with the idea it bears. Each of Ovid's tales flows, one into the next, building meaning by relations, counterpoints, repetition, and structure. Each small part builds into a grander whole. Just as all the sundry stories become a mythology, the many symbolic arguments become a philosophy. Instead of the Virgilian heroic mode, where one man wins, thereby vindicating his philosophy, Ovid shows a hundred victories and losses, creating an aggregate meaning. Virgil was writing of what he thought one man should be: loyal, pious, righteous, strong, noble. Ovid was more interested in asking what it is possible for a man to be--what are the limits of the mind? The Greek myths are an attempt to understand the mind, to observe what we do and create types, to develop a system for understanding man. In collecting these various tales, Ovid was creating the first psychological diagnostic manual, of which the DSM is the modern child. The Greeks invented everything, after all, and here, a few thousand years before Freud, is a remarkably coherent and accurate picture of the mind and its disorders. Freud did little more than reintroduce the Greek system, which is why his theories--the Psyche, the Oedipus Conflict, Narcissism--are drawn directly from that source. Of course, to any student of literature, it's clear that this is how the terms have always been used. All the great works alluded to these Greek ideas because this was the central collection of knowledge about the mind, a set of terms, phrases, and examples which formed the basis of any discussion of the mind. Indeed, the Greeks were much better at it than Freud was--he even screwed up the Oedipal Theory, the thing he's best known for, despite the fact that the Greeks had it right from the very beginning. Freud's patients, being middle-class Europeans, were raised by nannies and nursemaids until they were of age, and had fairly little interaction with their parents. Human beings imprint on people who we are around a great deal before about age six as 'family', and therefore, out of bounds sexually. Since his patients were not around their parents much before this age, they did not imprint correctly. Now: what's the first thing that happens to Oedipus in the story? That's right, he's taken away from his parents and raised elsewhere. Cause, disorder, symptom--it was all right there, and Freud still missed it. So, Ovid was indeed tackling a grand theme in his tales: the mapping of the human mind as it was known to Greece and Rome. That isn't to say that there isn't depth and conflict between characters and ideas in Virgil, but his centralized, political theme deprived him of the freedom to move from one idea to the next, as Ovid did. This lack of freedom is a boon for most authors: structure gives tangible boundaries and tools with which to create. With no boundaries, the author has no place to start, and no markers to guide his path. Imagine a man is given all the parts to a lawnmower. His chances of building a lawnmower are pretty high--but that's all he can do. Now give the same man all the uncut materials and tools in a shop. He could build a lawnmower, or nearly any other machine, but it's going to take a lot of doing. That kind of freedom--real freedom--tends to paralyze most people. Likewise, it's easier to write good poetry when the rhyme scheme, scansion, and meter are pre-determined than to create a beauty and flow in blank verse. Yet Ovid deconstructed his stories, starting and stopping them between books and moving always back and forth. He provided himself with absolute freedom, but maintained his flow and progression, even without the crutches of tradition. While his irony and satire are the clearest signs of his remarkable mind, the most impressive is probably this: that he flaunted tradition, style, and form, but never faltered in his grand work. Virgil knew what he did when he attached himself to Augustus' train; likewise Ovid recognized how his simultaneous praise and subversion of Augustus' legacy would play: none could openly accuse him of treason, but anyone with a solid mind would see the dangerous game Ovid played with his king and patron. He did not shy from critiquing Augustus even as he wrote for him, for his nation, and for history. Ovid's parting shot is the famous assertion that as long as Rome's name is spoken aloud, so will be Ovid's. This has been echoed since by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton, so that what Ovid realized we would never doubt today. Even banished to the wilderness, out of favor, the only way to silence the artist is to kill him, and this must be done long before he has an audience. Augustus got his month, but his empire fell. Ovid's empire grows by books and minds each year, and its capital is still The Metamorphoses. I researched long trying to decide on a translation. Though there are many competent versions out there, I chose Martin's. I recall seeing the cover and coveting it, but distrusting the unknown translation. Imagine my surprise when my research turned up my whim. I enjoyed Martin's translation for the same reason I appreciate Fagles': the vibrancy, wit, and drive of the language. Both are poetic, exciting, risk-taking--but also knowledgeable and deliberate. Every translation is a new work of art, all its own, and I respect translators who don't pretend otherwise. The translators of the fifties were more staunchly academic, capturing meaning and precision, but in enshrining the classics, they fail to take the sorts of risks that make a work bold and artful. Contrarily, the early translators, like Pope, recreated the work in their own vernacular--not merely as a translation, but as a completely new vision, as Shakespeare's plays are to Plutarch's Lives. Martin (and Fagles) take the more modern approach, championed by the literary style of T.S. Eliot and James Joyce, whose works are solidly grounded in their tradition, deliberately and knowledgeably drawn, but with the verve and novelty of the iconoclast. There is something particularly fitting in this, since Ovid himself was an iconoclast who mixed formalized tradition with subversion and irony. Martin proved himself utterly fearless in the altercation between the Pierides and the Muses: he styles their competing songs as a poetry jam, drawing on the vocal forms of rap music. I must admit I was shocked at first, and unable to reconcile, but as I kept reading, I came to realize that it was not my place to question. Translation is the adaptation of one style to another, one word or phrase or invocation to something more familiar. In his desire to capture the competition and skill of song in these early contests, he drew on what may be the only recognizable parallel to modern man. What is remarkable is not how different the two styles are, but how similar. It is comical, it is a bit absurd, but so was the original--and in any case, he is altering the original purpose less than Pope, who translated all of the poetry into anachronism. I never thought I would prefer a translation of Ovid which contained the word 'homie', but if Martin can be true enough to the poetry to write it, I must be brave enough to laud it. I still laugh, but only because Martin has revealed to me something of the impossibility and oddity inherent to translation. This certainly isn't your grandfather's Ovid, but then, your grandfather's Ovid wasn't the real one, either. I also appreciated Knox's introduction in both Martin's and Fagle's work, though Knox's Homeric background is stronger. I found the end-notes insightful and useful, though they are never quite numerous enough to suit me--but such is the nature of reading a work in translation.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” ― Ovid, Metamorphoses Ovid -- the David Bowie of Latin literature. I chewed on this book of myth-poems the entire time I was tramping around Rome. I was looking for the right words to describe my feelings about it. It isn't that I didn't like it. It is an unequivocal masterpiece. I'm amazed by it. I see Ovid's genes in everything (paintings, sculptures, poems and prose). He is both modern “Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind, and has given up worrying once and for all.” ― Ovid, Metamorphoses Ovid -- the David Bowie of Latin literature. I chewed on this book of myth-poems the entire time I was tramping around Rome. I was looking for the right words to describe my feelings about it. It isn't that I didn't like it. It is an unequivocal masterpiece. I'm amazed by it. I see Ovid's genes in everything (paintings, sculptures, poems and prose). He is both modern and classic, reverent and wicked, lovely and obscene all at once. It is just hard to wrestle him down. To pin my thoughts about 'the Metamorphoses' into words. Structure really fails me. That I guess is the sign for me of a book's depth or success with me. It makes me wish I could read it in the original form. I'm not satisfied with Dante in English. I want him in Italian. I'm not satisfied with Ovid in English. I want to experience his poetry, his playfulness, his wit in Latin. I still prefer the poetry of Homer and Dante, but Ovid isn't embarrassed by the company of the greats; so not Zeus or Neptune, but maybe Apollo.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I read this for one of those bucket-list reasons, having read a bunch of scholarly articles in college that constantly quote from Ovid... but I had NEVER READ THE ORIGINAL. Alas. How many years has it been, with that guilt slowly creeping up on me? So I did it. I read Ovid. And I fell in love. What the hell was I thinking? Avoiding this? I mean, how many damn mythology books have I read that go on and on about all the Greek classics, touted for their clear and concise styles, but really what I sho I read this for one of those bucket-list reasons, having read a bunch of scholarly articles in college that constantly quote from Ovid... but I had NEVER READ THE ORIGINAL. Alas. How many years has it been, with that guilt slowly creeping up on me? So I did it. I read Ovid. And I fell in love. What the hell was I thinking? Avoiding this? I mean, how many damn mythology books have I read that go on and on about all the Greek classics, touted for their clear and concise styles, but really what I should have been doing is read the damn book of prose/poetry by the first-century master! Even in translation, it's clear, entertaining, full of action and wit and subversiveness and plain JOY. And get this: it's not much longer than those full mythology books. SO SILLY! Enjoy the ART! The action! The joy of beautiful text! We even get poetical treatments of segments of the Illiad and Odyssey! But my favorites were Orpheus and the whole damn slew of the poor mortals getting f***ed over by the gods. :) Granted, if you're not already familiar with the kind of name-dropping that comes with a world that normally knowns all these legends, it might seem rather overwhelming, but for all of you who've read at least one book on the Greeks and are tolerant of learning on the fly, I TOTALLY recommend Ovid. I fairly danced with fun as I read this. I felt like I was watching the original Clash of the Titans for the first time. This had some really bloody sequences! The funny ones and the clever ones and even the LGBTQ ones are spread throughout, too! :) I'm frankly amazed we don't just have THIS to read in school. It's much better than most! lol *shakes head*

  13. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Cleverus Dickus: "Metamorphoses (Norton Critical Edition)" by Ovid (Author), Charles Martin (Translator) “God himself helps those who dare.” in "Metamorphoses (Norton Critical Edition)" by Ovid (Author), Charles Martin (Translator) When I think on Ovid and Shakespeare, my own poetic streak resurfaces. Read at your own peril (word of warning: If you don't know either your Shakespeare or your Ovid, what follows won't make much sense): Sente If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Cleverus Dickus: "Metamorphoses (Norton Critical Edition)" by Ovid (Author), Charles Martin (Translator) “God himself helps those who dare.” in "Metamorphoses (Norton Critical Edition)" by Ovid (Author), Charles Martin (Translator) When I think on Ovid and Shakespeare, my own poetic streak resurfaces. Read at your own peril (word of warning: If you don't know either your Shakespeare or your Ovid, what follows won't make much sense): Sentenced to exile! - be seated- Let me roll back the years- (Please lend me your ears)- And give me the closure I've needed. (...) More stuff on the other side of the rainbow.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    Preface Chronology Introduction & Notes Further Reading Translator's Note --Metamorphoses Notes Glossary Index Map of Ovid's Mediterranean World

  15. 4 out of 5

    Praj

    Gods and their love affairs. Gods and their love affairs with mortals. Fate, covetousness, allegiance, brutalities, treachery and chastisements metamorphosing from the cocoon of mighty love. The discordant waves of love dangerously destabilizing romantic notions; overwhelming morality and raison d'être of Gods and mortals alike. Ovid makes you want to write intense poetry and feel affectionate to the idea of love as a device of alteration for better or worse. Love does not conquer all; it destro Gods and their love affairs. Gods and their love affairs with mortals. Fate, covetousness, allegiance, brutalities, treachery and chastisements metamorphosing from the cocoon of mighty love. The discordant waves of love dangerously destabilizing romantic notions; overwhelming morality and raison d'être of Gods and mortals alike. Ovid makes you want to write intense poetry and feel affectionate to the idea of love as a device of alteration for better or worse. Love does not conquer all; it destroys and alters everything it touches. That is the best part in Ovid’s poems. They do not have happy endings. Lust or romantic love or ardent worship, acquired in any form changes a person, landscapes, communities mutating elements of fate and tragedies. Metamorphoses elucidates the consequence of origin and transformation in its entirety. My soul is wrought to sing of forms transformed to bodies new and strange! Immortal Gods inspire my heart, for ye have changed yourselves and all things you have changed! Oh lead my song in smooth and measured strains, from olden days when earth began to this completed time! Ovid commences his poems by showing appreciation to God (which he says is yet unknown) for carving a loose mass of earth into a picturesque bounty of nature. The amorphous chaos changed into a convex ecstasy of pathless skies, terrains, rivers, the color and prototypes of birds and animals came through a process of love and hate. Ovid represents the mythical world of story telling and repeating fables with morality lessons. The justifications of rape or incest in Ovid’s works segregate the idea of faithful devotion from the viciousness of powerful acquisition that overcomes delusional love. Betrayals are penalized and loyalties are commended. The treatment of love is sagacious and didactic in this book as compared to his other works in the relating genre. It moves onto a broader scenario, becoming a defining factor in wars, altering powers between constituencies, breaking and making of civilizations. Ovid intends the reader to see the probable metaphoric significance of change as a crucial and homogeneous factor in life itself. And now, I have completed a great work, which not Jove's anger, and not fire nor steel, nor fast-consuming time can sweep away. Whenever it will, let the day come, which has dominion only over this mortal frame, and end for me the uncertain course of life. Yet in my better part I shall be borne immortal, far above the stars on high, and mine shall be a name indelible. Wherever Roman power extends her sway over the conquered lands, I shall be read by lips of men. If Poets' prophecies have any truth, through all the coming years of future ages, I shall live in fame. As he concludes this epic of transforming love, he credits the survival of Rome to his own prominence making it one of the most influential and renowned works over centuries. Metamorphoses is translated frequently by several modern poets and literary elites.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emer (A Little Haze)

    Read as part of the ABN Summer Reading Challenge recommended by Gabby. I'd meant to read this for years but it seemed somewhat daunting clocking in at 700 odd pages but honestly I breezed through this book like it was half that length. It's utterly accessible for which I give the translator David Raeburn huge credit. His translation is pacy, rhythmic and filled with fantastically helpful notes which make it utterly engaging for the lay classicist reader like myself. And Ovid... He was born in 43B Read as part of the ABN Summer Reading Challenge recommended by Gabby. I'd meant to read this for years but it seemed somewhat daunting clocking in at 700 odd pages but honestly I breezed through this book like it was half that length. It's utterly accessible for which I give the translator David Raeburn huge credit. His translation is pacy, rhythmic and filled with fantastically helpful notes which make it utterly engaging for the lay classicist reader like myself. And Ovid... He was born in 43BC, died circa AD 17.... DOESN'T FEEL LIKE IT!!!! This book is laden with wit, with immense empathy at times, stories that will both haunt and disturb in good ways and bad, and you could damn well argue that on occasion he's quite the feminist with his depiction of some of the female characters... Like he's superior to Homer in that regard... Sorry Homer buddy. I do love you though. Favourite stories that appeared in this were probably about Medea; I enjoyed seeing her from Ovid's angle as opposed to Euripides'. The Rape of Philomela was hugely stomach churning but wow.... #shook And getting to read about my girl Circe was so interesting again after recently reading Madeline Miller's spin on her life. Reading the story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus was utterly compelling. But always and forever I am a fan of Orpheus and Eurydice.... I CRY OKAY!!!!! EVERY. DAMN. TIME. Every single myth of ancient Greece and Rome is here and they are fabulous. And I utterly loved every second of this book. five stars

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    I'm re-reading this from bits I consumed throughout my youf as a mythology dork, but the use of Roman names rather than their Greek equivalents requires a lot of stopping and re-referencing to figure out who the F. is being discussed. My Roman numerals suck too, since we're on the subject. Anyway, I decided to restart this in conjunction with reading Venus in Furs because that novel brought to mind the Pygmalion myth, which brings to mind The Sea Came in at Midnight, and somehow these all conglo I'm re-reading this from bits I consumed throughout my youf as a mythology dork, but the use of Roman names rather than their Greek equivalents requires a lot of stopping and re-referencing to figure out who the F. is being discussed. My Roman numerals suck too, since we're on the subject. Anyway, I decided to restart this in conjunction with reading Venus in Furs because that novel brought to mind the Pygmalion myth, which brings to mind The Sea Came in at Midnight, and somehow these all conglomerate in my head in a scattered mess which I hope to some day knit into a scarf for the frigid, blistery-cold Austin, Texas summer. It also reminds me of the movie Mannequin and what naturally and immediately follows, the American band Jefferson Starship (the last part being of no consequence whatsoever, just a side note). Don't judge me. Why am I spending my time this way? Because I was an 8 year undergraduate, and I am a bit lost without a project, so I decided to invent one. Don't judge me; I went out for 3 or 4 hours on Saturday. I will rehash these points in my von Sacher-Masoch review, once they make some semblance of sense. Don't juuuudge me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    This book is phenomenal. I had read parts of the Metamorphoses in high school, and my focus then was on the language and structure of the text, not so much on the stories. That's just what happens when you're trying to learn how to translate texts from Latin. When I picked up the book again earlier this year, I had no such restrictions (and no deadline) and I was looking forward to reading Ovid's history of the world - from its creation to Julius Caesar. What I was looking forward to even more, wa This book is phenomenal. I had read parts of the Metamorphoses in high school, and my focus then was on the language and structure of the text, not so much on the stories. That's just what happens when you're trying to learn how to translate texts from Latin. When I picked up the book again earlier this year, I had no such restrictions (and no deadline) and I was looking forward to reading Ovid's history of the world - from its creation to Julius Caesar. What I was looking forward to even more, was to read about the myths and legends that have informed so many other works from Dante to our own contemporaries like Ali Smith, and find out more about Ovid's view of the world in 8 AD. Yes, Ovid's view. The Metamorphoses may be a collection of ancient Greek and Roman myths, but there is a slant to them that is influenced by Ovid's view. Some of the myths differ from the earlier versions found in the works of Hesiod and Homer, and then there are stories about Julius Caesar and Pythagoras that are not based on ancient myths but are informed by Ovid's time. The book, or rather the last book of the 15 books of poems that make of the Metamorphoses, ends with Ovid praising Augustus. Incidentally, it was Augustus who banished Ovid from Rome at about the same time that the book was finished - the reason for this remains one of the unsolved mysteries of history. Anyway, more about the book: The book starts with the creation of the world and tells of how the world was transformed by the elements and by man, going through different ages, and finally focusing on the stories of gods and men and the many transformations that take place when they interacts. Transformation, as the title says, is the theme of the book: some are literal when people are transformed into plants or animals, some are less tangible, for example when Medea loses herself to witchcraft, and finally the philosophical theories that Ovid describes in the story about Pythagoras, who believes in a continuous and fluid world in which everything is temporary, and in which everything is in a state that changes into something else, and in which existence is thus infinite. It's very zen for a 2000 year old book (that is not a major religious text) right? This probably is what surprised me most about the book: how many times I caught myself being astounded to read about concepts that seem a lot more modern. Medea and mental illness, for example. Ovid does not tell the full story (and yes I will dig out Euripides' work to find out what drove her over the edge!) but by his leaving out such detail, I can't but marvel about what Ovid's audience would have made of it. Would they also have wondered about what caused her breakdown? Or, the stories of individuals struggling against higher powers, fate, or society. Ancient gods were assholes. Not many of the stories have happy endings, and in some, even happy-ish endings are pretty sad. However, all of them have a message, which is why Ovid selected them, and which is why so many of the stories have permeated Western culture. Even if they now only exist by reference to a name and most people won't know the story behind the reference. My favourite of those, probably is the story of Arachne. I'm not a fan of spiders, and I had imagined all sorts of variations of a horrible monster to be the origin of all spider-related words. But no. Arachne was a master waver who dared to enter into a weaving contest with Athena. Long story short, in Ovid's version, Arachne dared to show how unfair the gods and goddesses are and she dared to defeat Athena. Athena throws a fit of rage and destroys Arachne's tapestry. Arachne hangs herself in a fit of rage. (Yeah, I don't get this part - revenge suicide???) Athena, again, out of rage over Arachne's suicide turns her and her into a spider. Now, this is not the most logical of stories, granted, but I love that the story's metaphorical content is still applicable. I won't be able to look at spiders with quite the same level of aversion again. Well, some of them at least. Most will still freak me out. So, yes, this book took me a few months to finish, but it was a lot to digest. A lot of stories that required some thought, a lot that just needed a break before getting to the next one. It was an amazing book. After 2000 years, this is still entertaining, thought provoking, and beautiful. In his epilogue, Ovid proclaims that his work will make him immortal. Ovid does still live in his fame, and for all the right reasons. Lastly, a word on the Penguin 2004 edition with David Raeburn's translation: It rocks. There are plenty of free or cheap translations avaialble on the internet. I tried a few of them, but none really worked. I found those translations to be either too literal or too liberal. Raeburn's work combines a great balance of keeping close to the original text while still creating a work of poetry, and even keeping the original rhyme scheme.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Akemi G.

    I've been reading retelling of Greek mythology all my life, so it's probably time to read it in a more authentic form. There are many English translations for Metamorphoses. I think the enjoyment of reading depends very much on the quality of translation, so this review compares the various versions. Translated by Charles Martin (Norton) 2004 I bought this after reading this comparison. It's subtly but undeniable frustrating to me. I guess the first paragraph (invocation) is not the best passage I've been reading retelling of Greek mythology all my life, so it's probably time to read it in a more authentic form. There are many English translations for Metamorphoses. I think the enjoyment of reading depends very much on the quality of translation, so this review compares the various versions. Translated by Charles Martin (Norton) 2004 I bought this after reading this comparison. It's subtly but undeniable frustrating to me. I guess the first paragraph (invocation) is not the best passage to get a good idea. So here is the beginning of Book 3, the story of Cadmus: And now, his taurine imitation ended, the god exposed himself for what he was to cowed Europa on the isle of Crete. In an action both paternal and perverse, the captured maiden's baffled father bids her brother Cadmus to locate the girl or face an endless term of banishment. by David Raeburn (new Penguin edition) 2004 Same passage: Now they had landed on the Cretan soil, when Jupiter dropped the disguise of a bull, to reveal himself as the god who he was. Anxious for news, Europa's father commanded Cadmus to search for his kidnapped sister. 'Find her, or go into exile,' he said--an iniquitous action, if also inspired by devotion. Hmm . . . some readers might find the line breaks annoying. Not sure if it's any better or worse than Martin translation . . . by Allen Mandelbaum, 1993 But his false semblance soon is set aside: on reaching Crete, Jove shows his own true guise. Meanwhile the father of the ravished girl, not knowing what had taken place, commands Cadmus, his son, to find Europa or to suffer exile from Agenor's land-- a cruel threat, but born of love! A notable feature of this edition is that it has no Introduction, Translator's Notes, and annotations. It only has modest Afterword. So you jump in, just as you would when you read contemporary books. I like it--I read for fun, so the less hassle, the better. However, because all explanatory points are incorporated in the main text, some people might find it slow. by A.D. Melville (Oxford World's Classic) 1986 Now safe in Crete, Jove shed the bull's disguise And stood revealed before Europa's eyes. Meanwhile her father, baffled, bade his son Cadmus, set out to find the stolen girl And threatened exile should he fail--in one Same act such warmth of love, such wickedness! I like this, too. Simple and elegant, and I like how it flows. It sounds more literary and slightly antiquated, which may or may not suit your preference. (The Kindle eBook has a strange format, with wide margin on the left.) No clear winner. I'd say, if you like poetic language and have no problem figuring out what is happening in poetically abbreviated and slightly classic language, go for Melville. If you'd rather read it like a novel, Mandelbaum (although it is a verse translation). Or you might like the newest translation. Disclaimer I only read two languages, and Latin is not one of them. So I cannot tell how accurate these translation may be. P.S. Oh, the content. In case you don't know, it's filled with murders, rapes, and treacheries. Being a Roman, and being a creative mind, Ovid edits some myths. For instance, he skips the part about Cronus (Saturn) killing his children, and Zeus (Jove/Jupiter) killing him, his father. This way, Ovid makes it sound as if all evils started with humans. I wonder how Ovid really felt about Greek/Roman mythology. Rome conquered Greece about 150 years before his time, but culturally, Greeks influenced the Romans and their empire. Did he feel indignant about the strong Greek influence?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Evan Leach

    The Romans have a reputation as the great copycats of antiquity. After all, these were a people who borrowed a large amount of their culture, including most of their gods, from their neighbors. This reputation for imitation certainly holds true when looking at Roman literature. Plautus and Terence borrowed wholesale from Menander and other Greek playwrights. Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, for all of its merits, is basically restating the views of Epicurus. Catullus and Propertius imitated Callimach The Romans have a reputation as the great copycats of antiquity. After all, these were a people who borrowed a large amount of their culture, including most of their gods, from their neighbors. This reputation for imitation certainly holds true when looking at Roman literature. Plautus and Terence borrowed wholesale from Menander and other Greek playwrights. Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, for all of its merits, is basically restating the views of Epicurus. Catullus and Propertius imitated Callimachus. Horace imitated the Greek lyric poets (the Odes) and Archilochus (the Epodes). Virgil was inspired by Theocritus (the Eclogues), Hesiod (the Georgics), and Homer (the Aeneid). “In all this world, no thing can keep its form. For all things flow; all things are born to change their shapes. And time itself is like a river, flowing on an endless course.” Ovid, Metamorphoses And then there’s Ovid. By 8 BC, Virgil, Horace, and Propertius were all dead, leaving Ovid as the foremost living poet in Rome. By the time of Ovid’s death around 17/18 AD, Ovid’s poetic output was more than that of Lucretius, Catullus, Virgil, and Horace combined. Ovid wrote in a variety of poetic genres, and while some of his early love poetry was imitative he also showed an originality that was unique among his peers. First in the Heroides, and later with his masterpiece the Metamorphoses Ovid showed an originality of thought that causes him to stand out amongst his contemporaries to this day. The Metamorphoses is a long poem divided into 15 books. The poem recites a history of Greco-Roman mythology, from the creation of the universe to the deification of Julius Caesar, and mostly moves in chronological order. However, the poem is not simply a catalogue of familiar myths and legends. Although the poem touches almost all of Greek mythology’s high points (Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Jason, Achilles, and all the rest appear at some point), the Metamorphoses is not interested in telling the full story for all of its characters. The poem assumes that its readers have some background knowledge of these stories anyway, and instead weaves a long mythological history using the concepts of metamorphosis and change as a unifying theme. It’s an incredibly ambitious idea, but Ovid pulls it off beautifully. I mentioned in my review of the Heroides that I think Ovid has a real gift for getting inside the heads of these mythological characters and treating them as real people with genuine emotions and depth. Those skills are on full display here. This book may not be the best introduction to Greek mythology (although you could do far worse), as it does assume a certain level of familiarity and skips over some things. But the Metamorphoses is on par with Homer’s epics as the most impressive retelling of Greek mythology I’ve ever read. I’m not the only person to gush so shamelessly over this poem, which was wildly popular in Roman times. There were a few dicey years towards the end of the Roman Empire, when Christian leaders condemned the poem as shamelessly pagan, but the brilliance of Ovid won out and the poem survived to influence thinkers in the Middle Ages and beyond. The poem continued to be extremely popular throughout this time, and the Metamorphoses was one of the most popular books in the Western world for over a thousand years (over 400 manuscripts survive from the Middle Ages alone, which is a lot). It has inspired countless artists, poets, and writers throughout this time. W.R. Johnson pretty much summed it up in stating that “no other poem from antiquity has so influenced the literature and art of Western Europe as has the Metamorphoses.” That’s a pretty good legacy, and one that Ovid predicted in the final lines of his poem: “And now my work is done: no wrath of Jove nor fire nor sword nor time, which would erode all things, has power to blot out this poem…my name and fame are sure: I shall have life.” To sum up, this was an incredible book and, in my humble opinion, the only truly original piece of literature surviving from the Roman Republic/early Roman Empire*. If somebody wanted to read just one book from this period, I’d still probably recommend The Aeneid, which is the “most Roman” book in a lot of ways and a little more representative of the period. But I think the Metamorphoses was the best work of its era. 6 stars, a must read for anyone with an interest in classical literature (both for the poem's own merits and for the influence it has had throughout the centuries). I read the Mandelbaum translation, which was stellar. *Certainly the stories within the Metamorphoses are not original. They had been told countless times for hundreds of years before Ovid’s birth. And you could point to the Theogony of Hesiod as an example of an earlier catalogue of mythology. But this goes far beyond the Theogony in size and scope, and the idea of linking all of these stories with the theme of metamorphosis and change is so novel that I don’t think you can really compare the Metamorphoses to anything that had come before.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This book should be an absolute delight to anyone interested in European literature or art. Written in the first century AD it represents the first effort to anthologize Greek mythology and integrate the whole into the history of the Roman empire. I only regret that as undergraduate I never took a course with this work on the program. Having read the Metamorphoses without the benefit a classics professor to guide me I am quite glad that it was not the first collection of Greek myths that I read. This book should be an absolute delight to anyone interested in European literature or art. Written in the first century AD it represents the first effort to anthologize Greek mythology and integrate the whole into the history of the Roman empire. I only regret that as undergraduate I never took a course with this work on the program. Having read the Metamorphoses without the benefit a classics professor to guide me I am quite glad that it was not the first collection of Greek myths that I read. I had earlier read Thomas Bullfinch's and Edith Hamilton's anthologies both of which were written for individual reading without the benefit of academic supervision. My advice would be read either Bullfinch or Hamilton first and then at a later point in time when in the mood to return to Hellenistic culture read Ovid's work.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Oh, Ovid. What I wouldn't give to travel back in time and make sweet love to you on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. No, I don't think it's unhealthy to have lustful fantasies about Ovid. I don't care what you think! I do very much care that his work was lush, provocative and unforgettable in its revolutionary translation (often taking liberties) of what was at the time contemporary folk literature. A treasury of verse!

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Lentz

    I confess that reading Ovid's Metamorphoses has left me a changed man. His focus on transformation parables of ancient myths taught me quite a bit about change. I was intrigued by how often unwanted change was unwillingly created by life-denying action that angers one of the gods. All the great figures of ancient times are here: Daedalus, Achilles, Paris, Perseus, Hector, Pygmalion, Midas, Helen and Aeneas to name but a few. The origins of common fables must have had their ancient roots in Ovid. I confess that reading Ovid's Metamorphoses has left me a changed man. His focus on transformation parables of ancient myths taught me quite a bit about change. I was intrigued by how often unwanted change was unwillingly created by life-denying action that angers one of the gods. All the great figures of ancient times are here: Daedalus, Achilles, Paris, Perseus, Hector, Pygmalion, Midas, Helen and Aeneas to name but a few. The origins of common fables must have had their ancient roots in Ovid. So much of art, especially painting, music and literature, owes its transformation from the tales articulated with wit and charm by Ovid. This is an important window into ancient times and the stories must have been intriguing to hear in engaging oratory. This is genuinely a great work of literature and the pages really fly by rapidly. These tales of Ovid on change helped me understand better the constant role of change in my own personal transformation. And, thus, the tales of Ovid transformed me in the reading and in the writing transformed Ovid into immortality.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    NARCISSUS AND ECHO: The Birth of Narcissus Narcissus was fathered by Cephisus, who "forcefully ravished" the dark river nymph, Liriope. Narcissus was so beautiful that, even in his cradle, you could have fallen in love with him. His family asked a seer whether he would live to a ripe old age. He replied, "Yes, if he does not come to know himself." At first, it seemed that this reply was innocuous. However, ultimately, according to Ovid, it was proven to be true for two reasons: "the strange madness" NARCISSUS AND ECHO: The Birth of Narcissus Narcissus was fathered by Cephisus, who "forcefully ravished" the dark river nymph, Liriope. Narcissus was so beautiful that, even in his cradle, you could have fallen in love with him. His family asked a seer whether he would live to a ripe old age. He replied, "Yes, if he does not come to know himself." At first, it seemed that this reply was innocuous. However, ultimately, according to Ovid, it was proven to be true for two reasons: "the strange madness" that afflicted the boy and the nature of his death. Sweet Sixteen At the age of 16, Narcissus could be counted as both a boy and a man. Both males and females fell in love with him. However, Ovid says that "his soft young body housed a pride so unyielding that none of those boys or girls dared to touch him." The implications of this assessment are complicated. There are three components: 1. Narcissus was proud or vain. 2. He (or his pride) was unyielding. 3. None of his admirers dared to touch him. What is unclear is whether he rejected the approaches of his admirers. Did he not yield to their approaches? Alternatively, did he appear to be so unyielding that they didn't make any approaches? Did none dare to approach him? The Importance of Gender It's important to recognise that Narcissus' admirers were of both genders. He was equally attractive to both. Equally, he implicitly rejected approaches from both genders, so there is no reason to suspect that his sexuality was resolutely either heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual. The Arrival of Echo The narrative accelerates with the entry of Echo. She is unable to initiate a conversation, but can respond to another's comments, by repeating the last words that she has heard. She falls in love with Narcissus. When he detects her presence, he says "I would die before I would have you touch me." Echo replies, "I would have you touch me." She is inviting physical contact. He scorns her and she wastes away, almost anorexically, until only her voice is left. At this point, Ovid mentions that Narcissus has treated her exactly as he has treated both female and male admirers. "Echo and Narcissus" (1903), by John William Waterhouse An Admirer Scorned Now, another of Narcissus' admirers (not Echo) causes him to be cursed: "May he himself fall in love with another, as we have done with him! May he too be unable to gain his loved one!" The curse effectively makes his love unattainable. A Clear Pool with Shining Silvery Waters In the next scene, we find Narcissus next to a pool in the woods. As he drinks from the pool, he becomes enchanted with the beautiful reflection that he sees. He has become "spellbound by his own self". However, at this stage, there is no suggestion that he knows that the image is himself: "Unwittingly, he desired himself, and was himself the object of his own approval, at once seeking and sought, himself kindling the flame with which he burned." Unknowingly, Subject and Object had become one. However, as a result of the curse, the Subject could not attain his Object, himself. The Shadow of Your Reflection Ovid warns Narcissus in the text: "Poor foolish boy, why vainly grasp at the fleeting image that eludes you? The thing you are seeing does not exist; only turn aside and you will lose what you love. What you see is but the shadow cast by your reflection; in itself it is nothing. It comes with you, and lasts while you are there; it will go when you go, if go you can." However, there is no suggestion that Narcissus hears the warning. Ovid's caveat comes after the event, when he is writing his tale. Narcissus must acquire knowledge of his predicament on his own. He must come to know himself alone. Narcissus' Love Narcissus' dilemma is that he can't reach or attain his love: "I am in love, and see my loved one, but that for which I see and love, I cannot reach; so far am I deluded by my love...Only a little water keeps us apart." Eventually, he recognises himself and realises the nature of his love: "Alas! I am myself the boy I see. I know it: my own reflection does not deceive me. I am on fire with love for my own self. It is I who kindle the flames which I must endure." What is to be done? "What should I do? Woo or be wooed? But what then shall I seek by my wooing? What I desire, I have..." He has come to recognise that the Object of the Subject is the Subject itself. Because he already possesses himself (in fact, he is self-possessed), his desire is futile. He cannot acquire again what he already has. Separation and Pursuit His one response is: "How I wish I could separate myself from my body." The mind needs to separate from the body, the Subject needs to separate from the Object, so that the one can pursue the other. This process of separation would make it possible to both desire and acquire. However, again, it is a futile endeavour. My Ill-Starred Love Narcissus realises that he can never touch the object of his love, because it is watery and illusory. As his image recedes in the pool, he pleads: "Let me look upon you, if I cannot touch you! Let me, by looking, feed my ill-starred love." Let me gaze, if I cannot touch. Even if the object of my gaze is myself. He remains trapped in his self-possession. Woe is Me Narcissus, absorbed by his own image, remains by the pool and does not eat or drink. Like Echo before him, he wastes away. His last words before he dies are: "Woe is me for the boy I loved in vain!" It seems that he has come to "know himself" (view spoiler)[It's interesting to speculate on the meaning of this phrase in this context. Normally, to "know yourself" would be good advice and might prolong life. Here, knowledge will abbreviate Narcissus' life. I wonder whether the verb "know" is being used in a different sense to knowledge, perhaps something analogous to the "Biblical sense"? Was his problem knowing himself as he might know an Other? Alternatively, is there an implication that the illusion could have continued had he not recognised himself? (hide spoiler)] and therefore, in terms of the prophecy, he would not live a long life. When they are preparing his funeral pyre, the only evidence of him they can find is "a flower with circle of white petals round a yellow centre", a narcissus. Love of One's Own Echo The Narcissus myth has been interpreted as a warning against: 1. self-love; and/or 2. homosexual love. It's arguable that the reason Narcissus loved in vain, is that he loved in vanity. If initially he loved another, eventually he loved his own image. However, in doing so he was deluded, or he deluded himself. The object of the pursuit needs to be an Other, an Object, not the Subject. It takes two to make one. Vanity or excessive pride can be an obstacle in this quest. Same Sex Attraction The second issue relates to whether the Object needs to be an Other, someone who is not like you. In other words, someone who is different, someone who is of a different gender. In a way, the implicit question is whether homosexuality is a quest for another self, a match, a doppelgänger, rather than an opposite or a complement. If the former, is homosexuality a form of "narcissism"? I don't think that the original Narcissus myth implies anything about homosexuality. Initially, Narcissus did not yield to approaches by either gender. There was no differentiation between heterosexuality and homosexuality. They were equally available and appropriate. It's true that, inevitably, Narcissus saw a male image in the pool, just as a woman would have seen a female image. He also rejected the advances of the female Echo (as he did previously reject the advances of both genders). However, I don't see the myth as a caveat against same sex attraction and relationships. Leaving Room for An Other The real issue seems to be a preoccupation or an obsession with yourself, the obsession of Subject for Subject. This is the "strange madness" that Ovid refers to. In other words, the myth itself suggests that it is not sufficient for a Subject to be attracted to itself, a Subject needs an Object, regardless of gender. Although Echo was originally a nymph capable of giving love to Narcissus, her fate in mythology suggests that, while it might have been legitimate for Narcissus to fall in love with Echo, it wasn't appropriate for Narcissus to fall in love with his own echo. Ultimately, Narcissus died by his own hand, killed by a reflection or an echo of his former self. (view spoiler)[This review is part of a reading sequence that includes both Freud and subsequent Queer Theory: On Narcissism: An Introduction https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Reflecting Narcissus: A Queer Aesthetic https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... (hide spoiler)]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Very enjoyable translation indeed. Highly recommended. But much will depend on how much you are put off by some expanding of the original, and some rhyme (both internal and line-end). For example: "A fisherman, who with his pliant rod was angling there below, caught sight of them; and then a shepherd leaning on his staff and, too, a peasant leaning on his plow saw them and were dismayed: they thought that these must surely be some gods, sky-voyaging. Now on their left they had already passed the isle Very enjoyable translation indeed. Highly recommended. But much will depend on how much you are put off by some expanding of the original, and some rhyme (both internal and line-end). For example: "A fisherman, who with his pliant rod was angling there below, caught sight of them; and then a shepherd leaning on his staff and, too, a peasant leaning on his plow saw them and were dismayed: they thought that these must surely be some gods, sky-voyaging. Now on their left they had already passed the isle of Samos – Juno’s favorite – Delos, and Paros, and Calymne, rich In honey, and Labinthos, on the right. The boy had now begun to take delight in his audacity; he left his guide and, fascinated by the open sky, flew higher: and the scorching sun was close; the fragrant wax that bound his wings grew soft, then melted. As he beats upon the air, his arms can get no grip; they’re wingless – bare. The father – though that word is hollow now – cried: “Icarus ! Where are you ?” And that cry echoed again, until he caught sight of feathers on the surface of the sea. And Daedalus cursed his own artistry, then built a tomb to house his dear son’s body. There, where the boy was buried, now his name remains: that island is Icaria." Also you can read a nice bit online here: http://www.cardinalhayes.org/ourpages... Personally I quite liked the Arachne section included in the doc above, but these things are all a matter of taste.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Inkspill

    Raeburn’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a Penguin publication and is dubbed as a New Translation. This complemented my reading of a translation written in older English by Arthur Golding my review is posted here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Told in a selected collection of assorted Greek and Roman myths, Ovid takes the reader on a journey leaving the notion that Augustus, the ruling Roman emperor of his day, is a descendent of the gods. It’s a big finish; one of the last sto Raeburn’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a Penguin publication and is dubbed as a New Translation. This complemented my reading of a translation written in older English by Arthur Golding my review is posted here https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Told in a selected collection of assorted Greek and Roman myths, Ovid takes the reader on a journey leaving the notion that Augustus, the ruling Roman emperor of his day, is a descendent of the gods. It’s a big finish; one of the last stories is about Augustus’s adoptive father, Julius Caesar, being transformed to a god. This story is divided into 15 books and tells over 100 classical myths. It sounds disjointed but what ties them together is each has a transformation to a living thing or inanimate object. The stories read like a warning or a moral message with an occasional happy tale. The last two books are a wrap up of the myth tales, drawing a fantastical lineage from Aeneas, the son of Venus who survives Troy, to Augustus. And along the way Pythagorean philosophy on reincarnation and reasons to be vegetarian are thrown in. Reading this work for the first time, some myths (Midas, Proserpina, Icarus, Arachne, Medea) I kind of new. Others (story of Hercules, Odysseus, Echo, Orpheus) were familiar only by name but were really new to me. In scratching the surface of these stories I discovered different temperaments of pride, loss, revenge, heartache, love, jealousy, betrayal and happiness. What made this an enjoyable read is how Ovid connected the stories for me. I also liked how the last few books added textures to my reading of Iliad which I read a few months back and I will soon read another translation The Iliad: A New Translation by Peter Green. I also liked how Raeburn’s translation came with no expectations for me to know any of these myths. As a read it’s engaging and easy to follow, I felt the full force when it got gruesome, happy or sad. I found the notes, introductory essay, map of Ovid’s Mediterranean world and a chronology added to my reading. On Kindle the poem the poem is easy to read and handled the different font types and size well. All the links were activated and worked, so I could flick back and forth with ease. I also found the hyperlinks in the contents helpful, letting me go to any book or any story in that book easily. The introductory essay concentrated on the text, giving a rundown of the story and themes. Being new to this work, I found this a handy book which was strengthened by how well it worked as a kindle book and one I can see myself referring back to again and again.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Ovid was ignored by classical scholars for a long time as being frivolous and just not serious enough. He has now been rehabilitated and Metamorphoses is recognised as being one of the most complex, sophisticated and problematic poems of the age of Augustus. It's also one of the wittiest and most accessible, and this translation deserves prizes for being both faithful to the original Latin and yet reading beautifully in modern English blank verse. Too often regarded as a compendium of Greek and Ro Ovid was ignored by classical scholars for a long time as being frivolous and just not serious enough. He has now been rehabilitated and Metamorphoses is recognised as being one of the most complex, sophisticated and problematic poems of the age of Augustus. It's also one of the wittiest and most accessible, and this translation deserves prizes for being both faithful to the original Latin and yet reading beautifully in modern English blank verse. Too often regarded as a compendium of Greek and Roman myths, Metamorphoses should be read as a continuous poem telling the story of the world from the creation to the apotheosis of Julius Caesar - but in Ovid's own inimitable and often funny and scurrilous fashion. Along the way, he takes in almost every story ever told in the ancient world: Narcissus and Echo, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion, Medea, Venus and Adonis, the Trojan war, the foundation of Rome, Romulus and Remus. His style is witty, urbane and sophisticated, and he plays games with every genre of literature: love poetry, epic, philosophy, Greek science. The ostensible theme of the poem that unifies the 12 books is change, but modern scholars recognise that this too is part of the game Ovid is playing with his readers, and the debate continues over what Ovid is 'about'. More interesting, perhaps, is the way in which he plays with our preconceptions of gender, power, status and authority - but all with the lightest of touches that never reduce the brilliant story-telling to mere polemic. Writing after Vergil, on one level Metamorphoses is a response to and a dialogue with the Aeneid, and has sometime been read as an antidote to the supposedly pro-Augustan sympathies of Vergil. Certainly Ovid was banished from Rome by the Emperor Augustus just after the poem was published though the reason cannot be known due to the loss of all sources relating to the the incident. However, many scholars now recognise the other subversive voices within the Aeneid itself, questioning the imperial mission of Rome and Augustus, so maybe Ovid and Vergil are not so far apart at all... In any case, the Metamorphoses remains one of the most brilliant examples of the pure power of superb story-telling, and has inspired artists from Shakespeare to Bernini to Ted Hughes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    poncho

    Metamorphoses is an epic poem written by Latin poet Publius Ovidius Naso, also known as merely Ovid. It's compounded by fifteen books that narrates this author's perspective of the world, from the Creation of it to his days in the Roman Empire through a recollection of fantastic myths about transformation, either out of prayer or punishment, but always by divine intervention. It is important, however, to take into account that often, when Ovid refers to these deities, throughout his epic verses, Metamorphoses is an epic poem written by Latin poet Publius Ovidius Naso, also known as merely Ovid. It's compounded by fifteen books that narrates this author's perspective of the world, from the Creation of it to his days in the Roman Empire through a recollection of fantastic myths about transformation, either out of prayer or punishment, but always by divine intervention. It is important, however, to take into account that often, when Ovid refers to these deities, throughout his epic verses, he's actually making allegories about the Roman rulers. He depicted the deeds of those who had power over those who weren't through a transference towards the pagan myths that were very well known in Rome. He basically conveyed how that great nation worked in former and current days, in which peace just began to flourish. Personally, when I read Homer or Virgil, I'm astounded by their works, but I never felt as connected with them as I feel with Ovid's magnum opus. I would say that this is due to the fact that I do not relate to metaphors on homecoming, war or pagan rites; but ultimately Ovid does the same: he used the art of literature to denounce and to enhance life. However, for me, Ovid's subjects span several fields and issues that still concern us these days. Trust me when I say one will hardly ever read a better written poem that includes rape, abuse of power, injustice and stalking in perfectly constructed verses. But do not think Ovid's only goal was to narrate deviousness and how to get away with it: he shows the sorrowful aftermath. See for instance how many occurrences of suicide happen in this collection of myths out of heartbreaks, the death of a beloved or after divine punishment. There are several humorous episodes all along the book, but there are also others that are quite touching (at least for me). I remember Narcissus' for example, whom I used to think of as a despotic and egotistic being, but who's actually rather innocent and somewhat pure. There is also Hermaphroditus and how after Salmacis' rejection, intend of rape and caprice lost his virility by union to the latter. Or Daphne, who to after being stalked by Apollo, prays for her beauty, cause of her sorrows, to go away, being thus transformed into a laurel tree. We find also Iphis who was born a girl but it's treated as a boy, her sexuality concealed, just because her father threatened her mother to kill the newborn if it wasn't a boy. Iphis then falls in love with a woman who intends to marry, but she suffers because secretly finds herself amidst a sorrowful trial due to the claims of lesbianism as something unnatural. However, after divine intervention, she's finally turned into a man, happily married. And see Caenis too (another one of my personal favourite myths), who is raped by Poseidon and as a reward is granted a wish. So she wishes for her sex to change, being thus turned into Caeneus who would later be mocked at in fight against a centaur because of his change of sex: people believed his strength would be rather null because of his womanly origins. So my point is that Metamorphoses is filled with contemporary issues, specially those concerning gender identity. We often find news about women harassed by men, the latter claiming to be victims of the former's 'provocative' beauty, like Daphne thought of herself. We find men or women coping with gender dysphoria who have to live through it out of fear of rejection or sometimes death, like Iphis. Little did the author of this book think about his work outliving people's incomprehension about human nature being out of humanity's hands. However, the myths mentioned above are only a few: the diversity found in the book is really vast. Ovid made an outstanding job with his epic poem recounting human nature and how it can be transformed. According to him, we all change; we are like a river that never stays the same. He closes with a flourish in Metamorphoses' final book that tells the teachings of Pythagoras as a treatise on the art of peace. As stated by him, there's no reason why people should feast in the death of another being. He denounces the pagan practices that pointlessly take an innocent life for a sin that they didn't commit. He, overall, teaches the reader how precious life — any life — is. "Our bodies too, are always incessantly changing, and what we were, or are, is not what we will be tomorrow…" Even before Book XV I knew this was, without question, one of my favourite books. But after the book in question, I think this is one of the books I'll try to keep rereading for the rest of my days to remind myself that change is normal, that life, regardless of its form, matters; and this will, hopefully, stick to my mind for a while.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    A story of change and transformation 14 March 2014 The first thing that came into my mind as I was reading this book is a concept that was developed by the Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus: matter is never created or destroyed, it only ever changes form. Then there is the idea Ovid explores: the universe in which we live is in a constant state of flux. Granted, this is the second time that I have read this book (and in fact this particular translation, and I do plan on reading it again) and I A story of change and transformation 14 March 2014 The first thing that came into my mind as I was reading this book is a concept that was developed by the Ancient Greek philosopher Democritus: matter is never created or destroyed, it only ever changes form. Then there is the idea Ovid explores: the universe in which we live is in a constant state of flux. Granted, this is the second time that I have read this book (and in fact this particular translation, and I do plan on reading it again) and I must say that while it is an absolutely beautiful piece of literature – one that rightly deserves the term classic – it is a very hard slog. However, the influence that Ovid has had on poetry throughout the ages, stemming from what one could consider his Magnus Opus is outstanding. In fact, another literary epic poem that comes to mind is The Divine Comedy (as well as Paradise Lost), though I must admit that it is nowhere near as saucy as Ovid (not that Metamorphoses is his worst, in fact compared to the The Art of Love – not that I have read it – yet – Metamorphoses is tame). Metamorphoses could be seen as an epic journey through Greek and Roman mythology ending with the assassination of Julius Ceaser and the ascension of Augustus Ceaser to become Princeps of Rome, and with Rome transitioning from a Republic to an Imperium (though I suspect that if you were a foreigner or a slave, little had changed). I suspect that is the is whole reason behind the poem: the Roman state itself have just undergone a huge transition, a metamorphosis if you like, in that the nature of the government had changed, a change that was incredibly violent. However, as I have suggested, this change no doubt only affected the upper classes (of which Ovid was a member) in that the political and oratorical careers of the Republic had suddenly up and vanished. No longer could people aim to become Censors or Consuls because the Princeps had taken that role, and no longer could they form policy and shape the direction of the empire, because the Princeps was doing that as well, and the Princeps was not going anywhere, at all. What Ovid does in this poem is that he tells the story of the universe from its founding (if it indeed had one because many of the philosophers at the time believed that it had always been in existence and that it would have no end - rather it would simply keep on changing form, as it does in the Metamorphoses) and through many of the myths that had come out from the Greeks. Upon reaching the Trojan War, Ovid begins to follow Aeneas (leaving the stories of the Greek conquerors of Troy behind) through Carthage and to the founding of the colony at Alba Longa. It is clear that all of these myths (with the exception of Aeneas, and it is debatable – incredibly debatable – whether Aeneas was ever actually the ancestor of Romulus and Remus, but rather a creation of the Roman ruling class to set them apart from the Greeks, just as the story of Aeneas and Dido was a creation to set them against the Cartheginians and to give them a reason as to why they went to war – not that they were two superpowers fighting over the same lake being reason enough, but then again as most governments know, to send the population to war you have to have a really good reason) have been taken from their Greek origins and effectively Romanised (though Ovid was most likely working on what had developed before him, rather that doing something new The first change, or transformation, that we see in this story is the story of the flood. Now many Christians would like to use this as an excuse to justify a world wide flood, but while it is true that the Grecian flood story is quite old, no doubt it could have been picked up from other sources and Helenised (as many of these tales have been). However, my purpose here is to identify it as one of the first changes, in that what we have is an older world transforming into a new world through the flood (as is the case with the biblical account). The next change come about with the four ages (gold, silver, bronze, and lead), which have been lifted out of Hesiod (and note that Hesiod makes no mention of a flood). Once again we have a constant change as the nature of the ages change, as well as the occupants: as one age comes to an end and another age begins. In a sense, what Ovid is demonstrating is that nothing lasts forever and that change is inevitable. While one could look through the characters that change, such as Io shifting from a woman to a bull and back again, and Daphne with her transformation into a laurel tree, I would rather jump through to the Trojan War, which once again shows another transformation, and that is a transformation of societies and empires. Here we have one dominant empire coming to an end through war, but it is not completely destroyed because from the destruction wrought by the enemy, an seed is sent forth – Aeneas - to create a new empire that eventually rises up and overthrows the conquers of the fatherland. However, as things change, Ovid wants to show his readers (and remember his readers were most likely middle to upper class Roman citizens) that the flux is ongoing and that the current state of affairs will no doubt not last forever.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Torn as to how to rate this one. Based on creativity, prose style, and humor: 5 stars. Based on overabundance of disturbing, disgusting content: 1 star. This book is not for the faint of art, or the casual mythology fan. Ovid's aim was to encompass all of mythology into a single narrative, and he very nearly succeeded. The only places where he cheats a little are on the myths that already had either several or definitive versions - the Labors of Hercules, the Trojan War, and the wanderings of Odys Torn as to how to rate this one. Based on creativity, prose style, and humor: 5 stars. Based on overabundance of disturbing, disgusting content: 1 star. This book is not for the faint of art, or the casual mythology fan. Ovid's aim was to encompass all of mythology into a single narrative, and he very nearly succeeded. The only places where he cheats a little are on the myths that already had either several or definitive versions - the Labors of Hercules, the Trojan War, and the wanderings of Odysseus and Aeneas are glossed over. This is just fine with most readers; the book is taxing enough to the average attention span as is. The result is a mixed bag. Some of Ovid's retellings are psychologically spot-on and told with a freshness and verve surpassing that of most modern fiction, to say nothing of other ancient writing. The story of Apollo and Daphne is everybody's favorite for this reason: the prose is fluid as a river, the pacing is sublime, and the emotions ring true. It's a tale as old as time. Horny boy meets terrified girl, and miscommunication leads to catastrophe. Unfortunately, because this is the pagan Greco-Roman mythos, nothing can ever be undone, and having entombed herself in bark to ward off Apollo's embraces, Daphne is stuck there for good. She cannot reevaluate the situation. She cannot change her opinion of him. Similar instances occur all over: Actaeon and Diana, Pan and Syrinx, and there must be thirty other pairs I'm forgetting. The only major exceptions are Vertumnus and Pomona, who get a happy ending by virtue of being Roman, and Dis and Proserpine, who are stuck together because they're both powerful gods and neither can conveniently get turned into anything... Which brings up the main problem with Ovid. Good Lord, but this man had a twisted, filthy mind. This story of Dis and Proserpine (or as they are better known, Hades and Persephone) is a good example because there are several other ancient versions to compare it with, most notably the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (earliest written version 7th century BC). The story is essentially unchanged: man meets girl, man drags girl to miserable underworld kingdom, girl eats a handful of pomegranate seeds, girl has to stay, girl becomes more like her husband over time. Ovid's narration is so close to the hymn-writer's in some places that if he were submitting it as a school paper today, it might not pass an online plagiarism test. But in other, disturbing ways, his version diverges substantially from the source. There is no mention in the Hymn, for instance, of an outright rape. While it's entirely possible that Hades forced himself sexually on Persephone once he had her in his kingdom, the hymn-writer never states any such thing, and we can give the lonely god the benefit of the doubt. The writer of the Hymn also goes out of his way to refer to Persephone as "deep-breasted" - which establishes first that she's a fertility goddess, but second that she's nubile. She is physically an adult, although she isn't quite mentally an adult. Ovid goes there. In his version, the poor girl is raped by Dis while he's driving the chariot (this sounds anatomically impossible, but that's beside the point). He also goes out of his way to describe Proserpine as a child, with "small breasts" (note the inversion of the Homeric epithet), who weeps as much for the flowers she dropped as for her lost virginity (let's hear it for heavy-handed imagery!). The original was Labyrinth; Ovid's is Lolita. Charming. He smuts up a lot of stories in this manner. The tale of Pygmalion and Galatea, of which he is the earliest source, is almost unrecognizable from many of its beautiful treatments in art. In Edward Burne-Jones' series of paintings, Pygmalion is attractive and noble. He refrains from touching his statue as if she were real, even though his heart is moved by her. While he's out, Venus rewards him by bringing the marble girl to life, and we leave her innocent and awkward while her handsome young creator kneels before her, kissing her hands and averting his eyes from her exposed body. In Ovid, meanwhile, Pygmalion was in the habit of molesting the statue and only noticed she had come to life because the cold marble body he was groping had suddenly turned warm and started to move. Well then. So do I recommend this book? It can be disturbing and revolting in equal measure, not to mention features nine hundred characters too many and having no continuity no matter how hard the writer tries to force it. Yet it's been a well of inspiration throughout the ages for art (Bernini to Burne-Jones) and literature (Pyramus and Thisbe found their way into A Midsummer Night's Dream , while Rochester borrowed Vertumnus' old lady disguise in Jane Eyre ). For mature readers who love mythology or want a glimpse into ancient Roman psychology, absolutely, go read it. For casual fans, younger readers, and more delicate sensibilities, just read Apollo and Daphne, which is the best story and best writing of the lot.

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