"The Metamorphoses of Ovid offers to the modern world such a key to the literary and religious culture of the ancients that it becomes an important event when at last a good poet comes up with a translation into English verse." —John Crowe Ransom
"... a charming and expert English version, which is right in tone for the Metamorphoses."—Francis Fergusson
"This new Ovid, fresh and faithful, is right for our time and should help to restore a great reputation." —Mark Van Doren
The first and still the best modern verse translation of the Metamorphoses, Humphries’ version of Ovid’s masterpiece captures its wit, merriment, and sophistication.
Everyone will enjoy this first modern translation by an American poet of Ovid’s great work, the major treasury of classical mythology, which has perennially stimulated the minds of men. In this lively rendering there are no stock props of the pastoral and no literary landscaping, but real food on the table and sometimes real blood on the ground.
Not only is Ovid’s Metamorphoses a collection of all the myths of the time of the Roman poet as he knew them, but the book presents at the same time a series of love poems—about the loves of men, women, and the gods. There are also poems of hate, to give the proper shading to the narrative. And pervading all is the writer’s love for this earth, its people, its phenomena.
Using ten-beat, unrhymed lines in his translation, Rolfe Humphries shows a definite kinship for Ovid’s swift and colloquial language and Humphries’ whole poetic manner is in tune with the wit and sophistication of the Roman poet.
Topics: Mythology, Ancient Rome, Folk and Fairy Tales, Greek Mythology, Heroes, Literary Studies, Ancient Greece, Adventurous, Poetry, Translated, Ancient Times, Roman Empire, Rome, Greece, and Epic
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Don't read Ovid's Metamorphoses expecting a novel, or even a single coherent story. It's a series of stories, woven together in a highly flexible framework, which results in some stories being examined at length and others skipped over. There are stories about gods and heroes, about the lovers of gods, and those wronged by the gods. There are all kinds of transformations, including famous stories like that of Orpheus and Eurydice, the rape of Proserpina, the story of Narcissus and Echo, Adonis, Perseus... If you want to read a book which deals with a lot of the traditional Roman stories, Ovid's a good bet.
I don't know if it's the original or the translator, but either way the narration manages to encapsulate moments of tenderness toward the characters, as well as the moral judgements and so on. Even with the brief glimpses we get, there are characters that are intriguing, even likeable.more
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.
Rereading bits of this at work 6/11. So good.more