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"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

Published: Indiana University Press on
ISBN: 9780253012418
List price: $10.99
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I used this translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses when I was doing my GCSEs, and I've looked out for it ever since. The current poetic translations irritated me, I wanted the version I remembered. Well, lo and behold, my university's library delivered.

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
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.
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This is THE Metamorphoses translation to read. Others can't even hold a candle to it (I know, I read some side by side to compare). Beautiful, touching, amazing.

Rereading bits of this at work 6/11. So good.more
Enertaining, enlightening, but ultimately light.All the known myths and stories from the Greek/Roman world, with the exception of a few from Homer and Virgil are contained in this lengthy poem to unending transformation.Ovid's boast in the epilogue, "Thoughout all ages, if poets have vision to prophesy the truth, I shall live in my fame." is certainly true.A note on this translation: I have only a smattering of Latin, but found this text to be far superior to the clunky Charles Martin translation, despite Bernard Knox's enthusiasm. The notes were especially helpful. The unnumbered notes are contained in the back of the book so a reader needs two bookmarks. Notes are for the convience of the reader, why put them at the back instead of the foot of the page? and unnumbered too?more
The Metamorphoses is a poem in fifteen books by the Roman poet Ovid describing the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. Completed in AD 8, it is recognized as a masterpiece of Golden Age Latin literature. The recurring theme, as with nearly all of Ovid's work, is love—be it personal love or love personified in the figure of Amor (Cupid). Indeed, the other Roman gods are repeatedly perplexed, humiliated, and made ridiculous by Amor, an otherwise relatively minor god of the pantheon, who is the closest thing this putative mock-epic has to a hero. Apollo comes in for particular ridicule as Ovid shows how irrational love can confound the god out of reason. The work as a whole inverts the accepted order, elevating humans and human passions while making the gods and their desires and conquests objects of low humor.I read this both with the Sunday Morning Group and as the text for a University of Chicago weekend retreat. Not unlike many works of classical literature this has been a rich cultural resource ever since including authors from Chaucer and Shakespeare to, more recently Ted Hughes, and composers from Gluck and Offenbach to Britten. Ovid based these tales on Greek myths, albeit often with stylistic adaptations.more
I love Metamorphoses -- it's on my list of books everyone should read. I generally prefer the Greek writers over the Romans, but Ovid is one you don't want to miss. The myths included range from the popular tales that we all know and love to more obscure events that are like gems to mythology buffs. I do have to say, though, that the Penguin Classics version that I have is a prose translation, and I don't care for that at all. It's one clunky paragraph after the next, and I find it hard to read. I recommend finding a more verse-like translation.more
Was Ovid the most talented poet of all time? Who outdid him?more
A surprisingly pacey read; whilst somewhat lacking in structure, there is at least some overall thematic cohesion, and the writing itself is superb. If girls being turned into trees is your thing, then this is the epic poem for you. Also, rape.more
Seemingly dozens of rape stories, and the only prevention mechanism was to be morphed into a laurel tree, cow, toaster oven, you name it. And sometimes even that didn't stop these twisted deities. There were many other snippets of the well known stories of Perseus, Theseus, Icarus, Jason, etc., as well as some "new" takes on Aeneas and Ulysses. I was intrigued by the brief comments about natural history (ie, spontaneous generation).The stories and characters are many; it can get confusing. Also, I don't think I caught much of Ovid's humor. I listened to the Blackstone Recording and Mr. Kraft is an excellent, dramatic reader. Sometimes however he did sound like the possessed Rick Moranes character in the first Ghostbusters movie.Overall, it was a very fanciful and worthwhile experience.more
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 both wanton and clever.Both he and Virgil were sent to the extremities of the empire by Augustus, and both wrote epics from their solitude that would 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. That isn't to say that there isn't depth and conflict between characters and ideas in Virgil, but his centralized, political theme deprives him of the freedom to move from one idea to the next.This lack of freedom is a boon for most authors. The most structured style is the one which most benefits an unskilled author, because it gives tangible boundaries and tools with which to create. With no boundaries, the author has no way to judge himself, and nowhere to start.Imagine a man is given all the parts to a lawnmower. He can build little else than a lawnmower, but his chances of being successful are fairly high. Now give the same man all the uncut materials and tools in a shop. He could now make nearly any small machine, but it would take much more knowledge and skill.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 Metamoprhoses.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 after 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 it's 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. Contrarily, the early translators, like Pope, recreated the work in their own vernacular, not merely as a translation, but as a new work, 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. Martin 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.For 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 from one another, but how similar.It is comical, it is a bit absurd, but 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 can 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 to suit me, but such is the nature of reading in translation.more
I absolutely love this Renaissance translation. The long lines are quite a workout, but the beautiful language makes it completely worth it. When using Ovid as a reference, this is definitely the translation to use for eloquence.more
Important Note: This review is for the edition translated by Z. Philip Ambrose. Seeing as the review focuses mainly on the translation, this will not work for all copies of the book. You have been warned.Introduction:Right of the bat, I'll admit I'm slightly biased. The translator for this version, Ambrose, was my professor for my greek and roman mythology class I took at UVM. This was a required text and took me about five minutes to realize he was the translator once I got into class. That automatically made the class special. Of all the ancient translations I've read, I can finally say I've known the translator. Just keep this in mind as I continue my review.Content:Ovid is great, pure and simple. I love his stories and the way he writes them. Every time once of my friends asks for a story when we're bored I immediately go to my memories of Ovid and pick out one of my favorites stories. Usually this is the tale of Narcissus and Echo or Atremis and Actaeon.Translation and Notes:If anyone is interested in reading Ovid they already know the value of his works and what they contain (if you don't, then the rest of this review may not be as important to you). Henceforth, that is not the primary focus of my review and will, instead, focus on the translation, notes, and diagrams included in this edition. There is a formidable Table of Contents that lists each story for easy reference. At the end there contains an index/glossary that is near sixty pages in length, chronicling each place, god, and mortal, who they are and when they appear. This is much more handy that it first sounds and I've used it constantly. The introduction, which for me is normally boring and overly long, gives a brief synopsis of each book and the tales included within. That helped me to no end when studying for a test!Notes in the book were on the bottom of the page and usually helped the reader with synonyms (like Abantaides is Perseus), places, and names. Easy and very important.The two most important things in this edition are the illustrations and the translation itself. The illustrations, of which there are many, added greatly to the events depicted in each tale. I found that I used these illustrations as landmarks for individual tales more than the Table of Contents or the Index. For these alone I would recommend this edition yet we have not even touched upon the translation! Fortunately, the translation was just what I wanted: readable and very true to the original Latin. When I first read this translation as a sophomore, I thought it fun to read. Not necessarily easy (for I think poetry and classical texts should be a brain-working experience and require a decent amount of effort put into it) but still fun. When I revisited the text as a senior and translated the original Latin I developed a new appreciation for Ovid and Ambrose. Ovid's Latin was great (of course) and Ambrose did his utmost best to stay true to the original. I used Ambrose's work as a 'cheat sheet', if you will, as I read the Latin for class. The translation was almost word for word, line for line, and a young Latin student's gift from the gods. Until you've tried translating for yourself you can't imagine how great this was, to have each line match up with the original. Just...superb!However, I must note that I have not read a different translation. Overall, I don't think it would matter. Penguin comes out with decent translations (and they have the most, by far) and Oxford World Classics give even better translations with awesome notes except I found both these translations lacking something special when I glanced over them in the bookstores. Perhaps because they didn't have those wonderful illustrations or they aren't set-up as neatly, I still have no desire to further explore my dislike. Take this new bit of information as you will, my view of this translation will certainly not change.Conclusion:A great literal, but definitely readable, translation of Ovid's well-known work of stories and myths, complete with illustrations. Great for the beginner and Latin student alike. Highly recommended.more
I would've given this book four stars if it's more organized. The frequent jumps from one story to another really annoyed me. I think I like Bulfinch's Mythology better.Anyway, the title is damn right accurate since many people/deities here were turned into birds, rivers, stones, etc whether as forms of punishments or pity from the gods. Speaking about the gods, yes, I should repeat this: they're a bunch of vengeful, petty, envious rapists/douche bags. I don't think I can find any favorite. Definitely don't wanna live in a world full of those scumbags.Some stories are great, some are downright boring, if not repetitive. But, still worth to read, I guess.more
E. J. Kenney states in his introduction that Metamorphoses is an anthology of genres: elegiac, pastoral, tragic, and epic; and more high comedy than tragedy. I found Metamorphoses to be a highly entertaining way to learn much of the mythology of classical antiquity, especially those bits that continually reappear throughout English literature. The Oxford World's Classics edition has comprehensive introductory notes and explanatory notes on the text, and an extensive glossary and index of names. I found these aids to be most useful in reading the translation, which was just plain fun.more
Metamorphoses by Ovid is a captivating collection of myths. Am I the only person to wish for a flow chart of events and relationships? I loved it, however, I found myself obsessed with researching many of the stories on the internet. Not that I ever have a problem with this but it started to feel compulsive. So many brutalities due to spurned god love.more
I can't find the original version that I read in my classical civilization course. This is still the same. Ovid is an excellent writer and this compendium of translated "stories" is a beautiful read for those looking for a slice of classical mythology. My favorite is still Orpheus and Eurydice.more
The classic work in mythology, comprising the original iteration of many of the now-cliche forms of Greek (and Roman) myths. This is not to say that these myths are in their original form, Ovid (a Roman author) tends toward the romanticized versions of Greek myths, but in general delivers quick, accessible reads, all based loosely on the theme of metamophosis from one form to another, like nymphs turning into trees. Flows better than my favorite collection (Hamilton's Mythology) for those who are more interested in reading myths for the sake of literature, but probably not recommended for scholars unless they are serious about the scholarship. If you simply want a collection of myths for reference, quick study, or random reading, go with Edith Hamilton.more
While I do have problems with this edition of Golding's Metamorphosis, I have problems with all three of the modern editions (Rouse, Nims, and Forey), mostly in the free hand that they all play with punctuation while touting their preservation of Golding's spelling. However, Nims seems to come the closest to Golding's original and has a good amount of critical apparatus without being intrusive.more
Were Metamorphoses contemporary it would be a tv clip show called "World's Most Amazing Transformations!", would be aired during the graveyard slot on a Tuesday night, and would be narrated by Jamie Theakston or some other washed up has-been whose one marketable quality lies in having a voice people might recognise. What's more, it would still be a thousand times better than this horrible book.more
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Reviews

I used this translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses when I was doing my GCSEs, and I've looked out for it ever since. The current poetic translations irritated me, I wanted the version I remembered. Well, lo and behold, my university's library delivered.

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
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.
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This is THE Metamorphoses translation to read. Others can't even hold a candle to it (I know, I read some side by side to compare). Beautiful, touching, amazing.

Rereading bits of this at work 6/11. So good.more
Enertaining, enlightening, but ultimately light.All the known myths and stories from the Greek/Roman world, with the exception of a few from Homer and Virgil are contained in this lengthy poem to unending transformation.Ovid's boast in the epilogue, "Thoughout all ages, if poets have vision to prophesy the truth, I shall live in my fame." is certainly true.A note on this translation: I have only a smattering of Latin, but found this text to be far superior to the clunky Charles Martin translation, despite Bernard Knox's enthusiasm. The notes were especially helpful. The unnumbered notes are contained in the back of the book so a reader needs two bookmarks. Notes are for the convience of the reader, why put them at the back instead of the foot of the page? and unnumbered too?more
The Metamorphoses is a poem in fifteen books by the Roman poet Ovid describing the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework. Completed in AD 8, it is recognized as a masterpiece of Golden Age Latin literature. The recurring theme, as with nearly all of Ovid's work, is love—be it personal love or love personified in the figure of Amor (Cupid). Indeed, the other Roman gods are repeatedly perplexed, humiliated, and made ridiculous by Amor, an otherwise relatively minor god of the pantheon, who is the closest thing this putative mock-epic has to a hero. Apollo comes in for particular ridicule as Ovid shows how irrational love can confound the god out of reason. The work as a whole inverts the accepted order, elevating humans and human passions while making the gods and their desires and conquests objects of low humor.I read this both with the Sunday Morning Group and as the text for a University of Chicago weekend retreat. Not unlike many works of classical literature this has been a rich cultural resource ever since including authors from Chaucer and Shakespeare to, more recently Ted Hughes, and composers from Gluck and Offenbach to Britten. Ovid based these tales on Greek myths, albeit often with stylistic adaptations.more
I love Metamorphoses -- it's on my list of books everyone should read. I generally prefer the Greek writers over the Romans, but Ovid is one you don't want to miss. The myths included range from the popular tales that we all know and love to more obscure events that are like gems to mythology buffs. I do have to say, though, that the Penguin Classics version that I have is a prose translation, and I don't care for that at all. It's one clunky paragraph after the next, and I find it hard to read. I recommend finding a more verse-like translation.more
Was Ovid the most talented poet of all time? Who outdid him?more
A surprisingly pacey read; whilst somewhat lacking in structure, there is at least some overall thematic cohesion, and the writing itself is superb. If girls being turned into trees is your thing, then this is the epic poem for you. Also, rape.more
Seemingly dozens of rape stories, and the only prevention mechanism was to be morphed into a laurel tree, cow, toaster oven, you name it. And sometimes even that didn't stop these twisted deities. There were many other snippets of the well known stories of Perseus, Theseus, Icarus, Jason, etc., as well as some "new" takes on Aeneas and Ulysses. I was intrigued by the brief comments about natural history (ie, spontaneous generation).The stories and characters are many; it can get confusing. Also, I don't think I caught much of Ovid's humor. I listened to the Blackstone Recording and Mr. Kraft is an excellent, dramatic reader. Sometimes however he did sound like the possessed Rick Moranes character in the first Ghostbusters movie.Overall, it was a very fanciful and worthwhile experience.more
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 both wanton and clever.Both he and Virgil were sent to the extremities of the empire by Augustus, and both wrote epics from their solitude that would 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. That isn't to say that there isn't depth and conflict between characters and ideas in Virgil, but his centralized, political theme deprives him of the freedom to move from one idea to the next.This lack of freedom is a boon for most authors. The most structured style is the one which most benefits an unskilled author, because it gives tangible boundaries and tools with which to create. With no boundaries, the author has no way to judge himself, and nowhere to start.Imagine a man is given all the parts to a lawnmower. He can build little else than a lawnmower, but his chances of being successful are fairly high. Now give the same man all the uncut materials and tools in a shop. He could now make nearly any small machine, but it would take much more knowledge and skill.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 Metamoprhoses.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 after 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 it's 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. Contrarily, the early translators, like Pope, recreated the work in their own vernacular, not merely as a translation, but as a new work, 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. Martin 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.For 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 from one another, but how similar.It is comical, it is a bit absurd, but 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 can 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 to suit me, but such is the nature of reading in translation.more
I absolutely love this Renaissance translation. The long lines are quite a workout, but the beautiful language makes it completely worth it. When using Ovid as a reference, this is definitely the translation to use for eloquence.more
Important Note: This review is for the edition translated by Z. Philip Ambrose. Seeing as the review focuses mainly on the translation, this will not work for all copies of the book. You have been warned.Introduction:Right of the bat, I'll admit I'm slightly biased. The translator for this version, Ambrose, was my professor for my greek and roman mythology class I took at UVM. This was a required text and took me about five minutes to realize he was the translator once I got into class. That automatically made the class special. Of all the ancient translations I've read, I can finally say I've known the translator. Just keep this in mind as I continue my review.Content:Ovid is great, pure and simple. I love his stories and the way he writes them. Every time once of my friends asks for a story when we're bored I immediately go to my memories of Ovid and pick out one of my favorites stories. Usually this is the tale of Narcissus and Echo or Atremis and Actaeon.Translation and Notes:If anyone is interested in reading Ovid they already know the value of his works and what they contain (if you don't, then the rest of this review may not be as important to you). Henceforth, that is not the primary focus of my review and will, instead, focus on the translation, notes, and diagrams included in this edition. There is a formidable Table of Contents that lists each story for easy reference. At the end there contains an index/glossary that is near sixty pages in length, chronicling each place, god, and mortal, who they are and when they appear. This is much more handy that it first sounds and I've used it constantly. The introduction, which for me is normally boring and overly long, gives a brief synopsis of each book and the tales included within. That helped me to no end when studying for a test!Notes in the book were on the bottom of the page and usually helped the reader with synonyms (like Abantaides is Perseus), places, and names. Easy and very important.The two most important things in this edition are the illustrations and the translation itself. The illustrations, of which there are many, added greatly to the events depicted in each tale. I found that I used these illustrations as landmarks for individual tales more than the Table of Contents or the Index. For these alone I would recommend this edition yet we have not even touched upon the translation! Fortunately, the translation was just what I wanted: readable and very true to the original Latin. When I first read this translation as a sophomore, I thought it fun to read. Not necessarily easy (for I think poetry and classical texts should be a brain-working experience and require a decent amount of effort put into it) but still fun. When I revisited the text as a senior and translated the original Latin I developed a new appreciation for Ovid and Ambrose. Ovid's Latin was great (of course) and Ambrose did his utmost best to stay true to the original. I used Ambrose's work as a 'cheat sheet', if you will, as I read the Latin for class. The translation was almost word for word, line for line, and a young Latin student's gift from the gods. Until you've tried translating for yourself you can't imagine how great this was, to have each line match up with the original. Just...superb!However, I must note that I have not read a different translation. Overall, I don't think it would matter. Penguin comes out with decent translations (and they have the most, by far) and Oxford World Classics give even better translations with awesome notes except I found both these translations lacking something special when I glanced over them in the bookstores. Perhaps because they didn't have those wonderful illustrations or they aren't set-up as neatly, I still have no desire to further explore my dislike. Take this new bit of information as you will, my view of this translation will certainly not change.Conclusion:A great literal, but definitely readable, translation of Ovid's well-known work of stories and myths, complete with illustrations. Great for the beginner and Latin student alike. Highly recommended.more
I would've given this book four stars if it's more organized. The frequent jumps from one story to another really annoyed me. I think I like Bulfinch's Mythology better.Anyway, the title is damn right accurate since many people/deities here were turned into birds, rivers, stones, etc whether as forms of punishments or pity from the gods. Speaking about the gods, yes, I should repeat this: they're a bunch of vengeful, petty, envious rapists/douche bags. I don't think I can find any favorite. Definitely don't wanna live in a world full of those scumbags.Some stories are great, some are downright boring, if not repetitive. But, still worth to read, I guess.more
E. J. Kenney states in his introduction that Metamorphoses is an anthology of genres: elegiac, pastoral, tragic, and epic; and more high comedy than tragedy. I found Metamorphoses to be a highly entertaining way to learn much of the mythology of classical antiquity, especially those bits that continually reappear throughout English literature. The Oxford World's Classics edition has comprehensive introductory notes and explanatory notes on the text, and an extensive glossary and index of names. I found these aids to be most useful in reading the translation, which was just plain fun.more
Metamorphoses by Ovid is a captivating collection of myths. Am I the only person to wish for a flow chart of events and relationships? I loved it, however, I found myself obsessed with researching many of the stories on the internet. Not that I ever have a problem with this but it started to feel compulsive. So many brutalities due to spurned god love.more
I can't find the original version that I read in my classical civilization course. This is still the same. Ovid is an excellent writer and this compendium of translated "stories" is a beautiful read for those looking for a slice of classical mythology. My favorite is still Orpheus and Eurydice.more
The classic work in mythology, comprising the original iteration of many of the now-cliche forms of Greek (and Roman) myths. This is not to say that these myths are in their original form, Ovid (a Roman author) tends toward the romanticized versions of Greek myths, but in general delivers quick, accessible reads, all based loosely on the theme of metamophosis from one form to another, like nymphs turning into trees. Flows better than my favorite collection (Hamilton's Mythology) for those who are more interested in reading myths for the sake of literature, but probably not recommended for scholars unless they are serious about the scholarship. If you simply want a collection of myths for reference, quick study, or random reading, go with Edith Hamilton.more
While I do have problems with this edition of Golding's Metamorphosis, I have problems with all three of the modern editions (Rouse, Nims, and Forey), mostly in the free hand that they all play with punctuation while touting their preservation of Golding's spelling. However, Nims seems to come the closest to Golding's original and has a good amount of critical apparatus without being intrusive.more
Were Metamorphoses contemporary it would be a tv clip show called "World's Most Amazing Transformations!", would be aired during the graveyard slot on a Tuesday night, and would be narrated by Jamie Theakston or some other washed up has-been whose one marketable quality lies in having a voice people might recognise. What's more, it would still be a thousand times better than this horrible book.more
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