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Metamorphoses (Oxford World's Classics)

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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  33,502 ratings  ·  755 reviews
Metamorphoses--the best-known poem by one of the wittiest poets of classical antiquity--takes as its theme change and transformation, as illustrated by Greco-Roman myth and legend. Melville's new translation reproduces the grace and fluency of Ovid's style, and its modern idiom offers a fresh understanding of Ovid's unique and elusive vision of reality.

About the Series: Fo...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published April 15th 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 8)
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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....more
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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....more
Robert Farwell
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 't...more
Bruce
What a delightful book! Most of the myths contained herein were ones with which I was already familiar, many from high school Latin, but I’d not read the work in its entirety. What a treat it was to read it from start to finish, as Ovid had organized it. Ovid is a witty and urbane Latin writer of the last half of the first century BC and the early years of the first century AD, and he creatively used the myths of Greece to create a book that is a light entertainment as well as commentary on the...more
Josh
THIS PATTERN SHOWS UP A LOT. My English II class taught me that authors use repetition of themes to tell you that they're important, so, that means this pattern must be REAL important:

1. Jupiter inexplicably rapes the Fair Maiden.
2. Juno uses trickery (trickery!) to cause the Fair Maiden to unwillingly screw everything up.
3. The Fair Maiden cries so much, she makes this river!
4. The Fair Maiden inexplicably turns into a tree. Usually some sort of soliloquoy about the unfairness of the situation...more
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!
Celeste
What the fuck Ovid. Save some brilliance for the rest of us.
Ian Paganus de Fish
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"...more
David Sarkies
Oct 15, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Classics Buffs and Poetry Lovers
Recommended to David by: David Hester
Shelves: poetry
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...more
Wendy
description

Diana looks so sweet. Just don't let her catch you looking, or she'll give you antlers and set your own dogs on you.

Between the ages of 8 and 10 I was obsessed with all things Roman & Greek. I had these water-color illustrated books of classic myths and knew them all by heart, even if DID pronounce Eurydice like Yuri-dies. (and still do, apparently). I did eventually move on to other obsessions but it was a joy to revisit some of my favorite stories, even if (or because?) Ovid's versions hav...more
John
Mar 20, 2012 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who long for a reawakening, in every sense
Recommended to John by: Maybe... Dante? The Inferno?
The changes that teem in Ovid's rambunctious & altogether wonderful catalogue -- a reinvention of the fairytales he grew up with, at once fat & serpentine -- prompt chills of horror even as they feel off-hand. Stories spool out conversationally, each thread untangling to reveal another, & we're not reading for the reassurance of arriving somewhere, like safe at home in Ithaca, but rather for the astonishment of getting everywhere, of going magnificently gaga. Along the way, the trans...more
Nikki
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 sto...more
Chris
I've always been interested in Greek mythology. In fact, it kind of ruined other mythologies for me, because none of them seem quite as dramatic or detailed. I mean, these are epic stories where every river, reed and tree is a character. There are stories involving men, spirits and gods, some of them funny, most of them tragic and all of them pertinent to the human condition.

That's what mythology does, really - it explains not only the natural world, with its many interesting insects and flowers...more
Caroline
Fantastic. This is powerful stuff. I especially liked the speeches by Ajax and Ulysses when they compete for dead Achilles armor, even if it is a spot where Ovid strays from the metamorphoses theme. Also, the descriptions of nature and emotion throughout are vivid. No argument that it sags a bit at times, but overall the intensity is compelling.

I actually listened to the Horace Gregory translation, but am citing the print edition because otherwise the pages don't get calculated into one's annual...more
Matt
Ovid falls in line with Lucretius and Virgil as one of Rome’s greatest poets. Metamorphoses compiles the myths inherited by the Greeks that helped define Roman culture. The focus, as one can tell by the title, is on change. Story after story details the transformation of one being in another. It is in change that Ovid finds his truth:
Nothing remains the same; the great renewer,
Nature, makes form from form, and, oh, believe me
That nothing ever dies. What we call birth
Is the beginning of a differe
...more
Yann
Souvent il s'approche, ses mains palpent son œuvre, ne sachant
si elle est de chair ou d'ivoire. Et il ne dit plus qu'elle est en ivoire ;
il lui donne des baisers, et pense qu'elle les lui rend ; il lui parle,
l'étreint, croit sentir ses doigts presser les membres qu'ils touchent
et craint que les bras ainsi serrés ne soient marqués de bleus.
Tantôt il lui dispense des caresses, tantôt lui offre des présents
appréciés par les filles : coquillages, beaux galets, petits oiseaux,
des fleurs de mille cou
...more
James
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 r...more
David Wallace Fleming
This was not a book I read for pleasure. I read it in an effort to understand the history, structure and use of language. And, on that level, this epic poem delivers. What first drew me to it was its history of inspiring great writers such as Shakespeare and Kafka.

Parts of this poem are dry and hard to get through (the Ancients seemed to have a strong obession with identity as witnessed by a wealth of personal names and descriptions of character) and parts jump out and dazzle and flash with all...more
Trevor
I never quite finished this and will need to start again now. The problem was reading it before bed at night - there are so many stories and so many characters that keeping track of them all in that twillight between awake and asleep proved too much for me. But this is the Classical World's Bible, although much more interesting in that the stories are clearly meant to be taken as metaphor and there isn't endless boring bits where all that happens is praise for the jealous god.

The Greeks and Roma...more
RandomAnthony
This is another brilliant book, very readable, that anyone who ever loved classical poetry, Greek mythology or classical drama would love. Mandelbaum's clean, flowing translation serves Ovid well, and each story could stand on its own and as part of the larger narrative. Book XV meditates on the larger concepts of loss, change, and regeneration...you could probably just read that book if you don't have time for the whole text. I highly recommend this book.
James Campbell
These stories will be difficult for the uninitiated to get into, but they're well worth the time and effort. Never will there be a book where more people transform into trees. NEVER.
شيرين هنائي
يكفي جدا للباحث في الميثولوجيا الاغريقية..لوحات رائعة برؤية جديدة..اتمنى ان اعطية عشرة نجوم
Emily
This translation (by David Slavitt) has beautiful imagery and descriptive language. He also really captures the "read-aloud" feel of this epic poem.

Each story is connected to the one before it and after it, sometimes by the thinnest of threads, but Ovid manages to make them all flow together in a (mostly) logical order. The theme of changing (metamorphoses) shines through every tale. Most, if not all, of the stories had some unfortunate turning into an animal or a tree or turned to stone by Med...more
Mark Adderley
This is a very readable translation of the "Metamorphoses."

The Romans were famous for absorbing the cultures and the religions of the peoples they conquered, so one of the interesting things about reading the "Metamorphoses" is trying to separate the native Italic or Etruscan elements in the stories from the later Greek accretions. And when Ovid tells a Greek story, how does he Romanize it? For example, Jupiter is partly derived from the Etruscan god, Tinia, a god of warning and punishment. He h...more
max
Here's my Amazon review posted in August 2003:

Okay, so you're looking for a copy of the Metamorphoses in English, and are bewildered by the variety of translations which are widely available today -- Slavitt, Melville, Mandelbaum, Gregory, Humphries, and now Simpson. Translations are a tricky thing, especially translations of ancient authors, whose unique styles and literary conventions are next to impossible to convey in another language. Any translator of Ovid can only rarely hope to convey th...more
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Loosed in Transla...: Ovid's Metamorphoses 6 169 Jan 15, 2014 04:19PM  
Recommended translations? 9 78 Dec 10, 2013 09:15PM  
Classical Self-Ed...: #7: Ovid's Metamorphoses 1 22 Jan 07, 2013 09:33AM  
Mithology! 2 55 Aug 15, 2012 01:09PM  
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  • The Sixteen Satires
  • Theogony/Works and Days (World's Classics)
  • The Satyricon
  • Odes and Epodes (Loeb Classical Library)
  • The Eclogues: Dual Language Edition
  • The Golden Ass
  • The Annals of Imperial Rome
  • Pharsalia: The Civil War
  • Sappho: A New Translation
  • Medea and Other Plays
  • The Oresteia
  • Epigrams
  • Lysistrata and Other Plays
  • Sophocles II: Ajax/Women of Trachis/Electra/Philoctetes (Complete Greek Tragedies 4)
  • The Twelve Caesars
1127
Publius Ovidius Naso (20 March 43 BCE – CE 17/18), known as Ovid (/ˈɒvɪd/) in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, and for collections of love poetry in elegiac couplets, especially the Amores ("Love Affairs") and Ars Amatoria ("Art of Love"). His poetry was much imitated during Late...more
More about Ovid...
The Art of Love Tales from Ovid: 24 Passages from the Metamorphoses The Erotic Poems Heroides Ovid III: Metamorphoses: Volume I, Books I-VIII

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“I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth. ” 216 likes
“Fas est ab hoste doceri.
One should learn even from one's enemies.”
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