Ovid's Metamorphoses and Further Metamorphoses discussion

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message 1: by Roger (last edited Aug 29, 2018 05:59AM) (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments HISTORY. Just for archival purposes, a note on how this all came about. I wrote a review of The Overstory by Richard Powers, a modern novel that nonetheless has several references to Ovid. I included two Ovid snippets in my review.

At this point, I recalled that I had Ted Hughes' Tales from Ovid on my shelves unread. I read this also, and my review sparked a whole trail of comments, from Kalliope, who is very much into the legacy of Ovid in the visual arts, and from Roman Clodia, whose professional field, I believe, overlaps with the reception of classic authors in the Renaissance. The whole thread is worth reading, actually, but too long to reproduce here. R.


message 2: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments TEXT. I agree that it is a very good idea to keep a folder/thread dedicated to translations, and the various criteria on which they might be judged: completeness and fidelity being an obvious two. However, Ted Hughes' Tales from Ovid is neither complete nor faithful, and yet it is quite marvelous. I can foresee that there will be two threads to our study: what Ovid wrote, and what others have made of him. Right now, I am more interested in the latter.

All the same, if we don't keep "what Ovid wrote" as a basis somewhere, we will just flounder around. Which means, at some level, the Latin original. My own Latin reached its peak 65 years ago (yes, when I was 13 and actually reading Ovid). I couldn't read him from scratch now, but I still know enough Latin to be able to use the text as a reference when I know what I'm looking for.

So I think one of our first goals might be to find a modern translation that it faithful enough to serve as a stand-in for the Latin. I shall probably continue to enjoy dotting around among different translations, however.

And sometime, Clodia, I would like you to demonstrate what you mean by Ovid's wit, that you have mentioned several times as being a feature of his Latin style. R.


message 3: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments SPEED. Your proposal of one book a week seems wildly over-ambitious, Clodia. I was thinking more in terms of spreading it over an entire year! But I doubt we can be that fixed in our plans. There are some books like the first that contain so much they will take weeks to unpack. I'm pretty sure that there will be others that, though they contain new material, will lead us back merely into new instances of ideas we have already explored.

I therefore urge flexibility, and that we let ourselves be guided by the responses of others. R.


message 4: by Roger (last edited Aug 29, 2018 09:22AM) (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments PURPOSE. By this, I mean the personal reasons why the three of us agreed to start the group, together with the reasons why other people eventually join. I suspect there will be slight differences in each case, which is fine. I may be especially interested, for example, in Ovid's influence on the renaissance and baroque, but that does not mean I can't benefit by learning more about the poet in his own time.

As I said earlier, I was made to read at least a few books of the Metamorphoses in school. I remember enjoying them (though I also enjoyed his Tristia, which is very different). So one of my personal purposes is nostalgic: to revisit that old experience and seeing it in the fuller context, both of the complete work in its time, and in terms of my own increased knowledge.

However, my main interest as a former opera director, art historian, and writer, is to see how Ovid inspired later generations, especially in the 15th through 17th centuries.

• As an opera director, I have staged Cavalli's Calisto three times and Charpentier's Actaeon twice. There are also many operatic settings of the Orpheus legend, and at least one each of Semele and Venus and Adonis. Richard Strauss added a Daphne and Danae.

• The chief renaissance painter who was inspired by Ovid is of course Titian, who painted six paintings after Ovid for Philip II: Danae, Venus and Adonis, Perseus and Andromeda, Europa, Callisto, and Actaeon. But there are many, many other interpretations by Rubens, Poussin, and others.

• However violently they force Ovid into the Procrustean bed of another style, I must say I get a special kick out of the older translations, such as the 1567 one by Arthur Golding and the 1717 compilation by Samuel Garth, including contributions by Dryden and others. I would also be interested to see the collection After Ovid: New Metamorphoses put together by Michael Hofmann and James Lasdun in 1994, in emulation of the Garth collection.

All of which goes to show that I am less of a purist, perhaps, than others. My main interest is less Ovid himself than the children born of his seed from the wombs of numerous other poets, artists, and musicians throughout the centuries. R.


message 5: by Roger (last edited Sep 04, 2018 02:04PM) (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments

I mentioned that I was offering a course on Ovid, which may or may not be taken up by the powers that be. The above is my sampler page from my catalogue of courses, posted at: http://www.brunyate.com/oshergeneral/...

Here is the text at normal size:

"The five paintings shown here (Actaeon, Andromeda, Venus and Adonis, Danaë, and Europa) are among those painted by Titian for Philip II of Spain, based on myths told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses (8 CE). They are but one example of the hold Ovid had on the imagination of poets, artists, and opera composers in the renaissance and baroque—one that continues to this day, for instance in adaptations by the poet Ted Hughes (from whom we borrow our title) and director Mary Zimmerman. In this six-week course, we shall look at Ovid himself in the crux between the death of the old world and the birth of the new—and, by following selected stories, we shall look at the many different ways his work has been translated and adapted from the renaissance to the present.

Roger Brunyate first studied Ovid in Latin at school, and has retained an interest through his degrees in literature and art history, and in his long career as a director of opera."

This, of course, is a kind of dress rehearsal for what I personally would hope to contribute, and learn more about, in this discussion group. R.


message 6: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments Kalliope's unearthing of the previous GR thread about translations gives us a number of possible names to whom we might reach out.

I also see that, on Amazon, no matter what translation you look up, it still lists 199 reviews—which is quite ridiculous, as it is the translation one wants to know about, not the work itself! However, it would not take long to look through these reviews and note the ones with any substance. They might give us a few people we would want to hear from… although I am not sure how to get from an Amazon review to a Goodreads invitation! R.


message 7: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments My copy of After Ovid arrived this evening by Amazon Prime. I've only glanced through it as yet, but wow! Four poems that Ted Hughes would later include in his book. Two by Seamus Heaney. Others by such names as Alice Fulton, JD McClatchy, Paul Muldoon, Robert Pinsky, and Charles Simic. Some straightish translations, some extended all-angles treatments, some tight little stanzas, some free verse, some knotty and experimental. All new. All written in response to the request by Michael Hoffmann and James Lasdun—who have some magnificent contributions themselves. But it is more than honoring the request of two younger colleagues; the energy and invention here is testament to the continuing power of Ovid to inspire two thousand years later. R.


message 8: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Our first comments above expand on the overall interest of this group, but this is the 'relaxed' lounge in which anybody ought to feel free to post any more casual comment, aside to the actual discussions.


message 9: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Welcome, all - I'm looking forward to our Ovidian journey!


message 10: by Iset (new)

Iset Hi everyone. I was invited here by Roman Clodia. Like Roger, I read at least some of the books at school - though I'm happy to do a re-read, as it was long enough ago that I could use a refresher.

I studied Ancient History and Archaeology to post-grad level at University College London. My specialist subject is actually Egyptology, however I have secondary specialisms in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East - so, the Hellenistic world, Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia. In other words I hope my background means I can contribute usefully to discussions.

I checked my library and of course I just happen to have a copy of the Metamorphoses lying around. It is translated by Ian Johnston of Vancouver Island University.


message 11: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Iset wrote: "Hi everyone. I was invited here by Roman Clodia. Like Roger, I read at least some of the books at school - though I'm happy to do a re-read, as it was long enough ago that I could use a refresher.
..."


Welcome, Iset, and nice to meet you. With your background I am sure you will be a great contributor.


message 12: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Great to see you here, Iset, especially with your specialist knowledge. My own interests are in Latin poetry from the late Republic and early Principate, and Renaissance receptions of Ovid (amongst others). I'm also interested in bodies and gender.


message 13: by Iset (new)

Iset In that case I think I should also mention that I have a side interest in history and archaeology for public consumption - so it's rather neat that the translation I will be reading is a free version that anyone can pick up. Oh, and also ethics - I expect that to come into play with the tales Ovid recorded!


message 14: by Fionnuala (new)

Fionnuala | 33 comments Hello, everyone.
Thank you for the invitation to join the group, Kalliope. I look forward to joining in the discussions.


message 15: by Vit (new)

Vit Babenco I'm ready to read the opus.


message 16: by Lyn (new)

Lyn Elliott | 12 comments Thank you for inviting me to the group, Kalliope. I last studied Latin when I was 14, a long time go; have never read Ovid himself but am familiar with many of the stories from the Metamorphoses and am going to enjoy reading with you all.


message 17: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine Thank you, Kalliope, for inviting me! I read part of Ovid's Metamorphoses during a course in Classical Mythology which I took three years ago. I always wanted to finish reading it, but life came in between. Therefore, I look forward to tackling Ovid's masterwork again. About translations: I have the Penguin Classics edition translated by David Raeburn which I used during my course and a Latin/German Reclam edition, translated by Michael von Albrecht (this edition has beautiful etchings by Pablo Picasso...).


message 18: by Netta (new)

Netta (femmeetlettres) | 2 comments Hello everyone!
Thank you for the invitation, Roman Clodia. I've been planning on thoroughly reading Metamorphoses for ages, so I'm lucky to grab the opportunity now - reading and discussing Ovid among the fellows.

I sort of have BA in Linguistics. Sort of - because I quit studying linguistics one year away from getting my degree to study art history (which I'm happily doing now). My passions are - as some of you might know - art and history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, my softest spot is Leonardo da Vinci. Apart from that, I'm interested in the Egyptian and early Christian art.

I look forward to joining in!


message 19: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Great to see you here Netta, and hi to those of you I haven't 'met' before [waves]. It's so much fun to see the wide range of interests here including people who will be reading the Met. for the first time: I'm always fascinated to hear first impressions from readers approaching Ovid without 'baggage' as it were.

Just to confirm that we'll be starting our discussions with Book 1 on November 5th. Exciting!


message 20: by Netta (new)

Netta (femmeetlettres) | 2 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "It's so much fun to see the wide range of interests here including people who will be reading the Met. for the first time: I'm always fascinated to hear first impressions from readers approaching Ovid without 'baggage' as it were."
Though I've been thinking today, if one can approach someone like Ovid truly without baggage, as you put it, or, let's say, background-less. Isn't he one of those whom we rarely actually read but often happen to know a lot about what he wrote and how it influenced the world?


message 21: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Possibly - or we may know some of the stories that are included in the Met... but not actually the Ovidian version which may surprise?

You're right, though, that Ovid is often transmitted to us via other media and through others' eyes and pens - and we're certainly interested in how these interactions work and what they say about both the originary Ovidian text and the historicised reception.

Some of the myths have a whole history of their own: Apollo and Daphne, say; or Pygmalion - which we can discuss when we get to those books.


message 22: by Ilse (new)

Ilse | 3 comments Hi everyone, and thank you very much for the invitation, Kalliope - I read Metamorphoses last year and wanted to start it all over as soon as I was finished, this is a fine chance to do so. I have followed your discussion in Roger's review thread on starting this group eagerly, and look forward to delve into it more profoundly.


message 23: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Hello, Fionnuala, Vit, Lyn, Jasmine, Ilse and also Netta (you must have received two invitations, from RC and myself). I am very glad you joined the group.

As Ilse says, the idea came up in a discussion of Roger's review. I have been wanting to read this book for years, and in a previous GR discussion I got a recommendation of the translation to follow (I posted it in the Translations folder).. but I am toying with the idea of adding the Penguin edition, the one recommended by RC.

This seem such an important work, on itself, and then for subsequent literature and then the other arts, that I am rather ashamed that I have not read it before...

I am therefore very excited about this group and look forward to the discussion with you all.


message 24: by Ted (new)

Ted | 1 comments I tried reading this in a group read 2-3 years ago but eventually dropped out. I'm willing to give it another go, particularly at the very slow pace envisioned - and especially since I'd already decided myself that I should it try again. Thanks for the invite Kalliope!


message 25: by Quiver (new)

Quiver (quiverquotes) | 7 comments Here's a random question... In my reading of Sappho today I came across fragment 166:

"They say that once Leda
found hidden
a hyacinth-colored egg."

The attached note gave the relevant traditional background (Leda wife of Tyndarus, Zeus/Jove slept with her in guise of swan, she gave birth to an egg), but then went on to comment, with what I thought was a somewhat amused air: "Sappho apparently told a different version of this story, in which Leda found the egg."

Now, we're reading Ovid, and Leda is about a minor a character in the Metamorphoses as one can get (barely meriting mention), so I was wondering: are we (by which I mean: is this group) interested in such tangential cross-references?

I'm not proposing we swamp the chats with irrelevant details, but I personally find that the occasional amusing/differing account even of a minor character enhances familiarity and therefore helps a text that's otherwise full of names seem less foreign.

Thoughts?


message 26: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Ted wrote: "I tried reading this in a group read 2-3 years ago but eventually dropped out. I'm willing to give it another go, particularly at the very slow pace envisioned - and especially since I'd already de..."

Welcome, Ted. I think it was when that group was created that I bought my copy, but did not read it then either... too busy with other books... but this time it is a priority. And yes, the slow read and the branching out will make it more 'sticky'.


message 27: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Quiver wrote: "I'm not proposing we swamp the chats with irrelevant details, but I personally find that the occasional amusing/differing account even of a minor character enhances familiarity and therefore helps a text that's otherwise full of names seem less foreign."
"


I would say that yes, if it draws one's attention, certainly. The discussion itself will determine whether it is irrelevant or not, but to me considering other sources for any given myth is interesting.. And Leda in painting at least is a major theme.


message 28: by Quiver (new)

Quiver (quiverquotes) | 7 comments Kalliope wrote: "Quiver wrote: "I'm not proposing we swamp the chats with irrelevant details, but I personally find that the occasional amusing/differing account even of a minor character enhances familiarity and t..."

Noted! Where's the best place to post that kind of detail? General chat seems a bit too general, and I'm not sure "Background and Context" would fit this (though technically it did come almost a millennium prior to Ovid...). And if Leda will be discussed, where does the boundary of interest lie? You tell me Leda in verse and I think "Leda and the Swan" by Yeats....


message 29: by Kalliope (last edited Oct 08, 2018 01:06AM) (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Quiver wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Quiver wrote: "I'm not proposing we swamp the chats with irrelevant details, but I personally find that the occasional amusing/differing account even of a minor character enhances ..."


When we start the Ovid read, on the first mention of Leda you could expand on this and suggest further reading, and further appropriations of any of the elements/myths.

'Background and Context' is to focus more on Ovid himself....


message 30: by Quiver (new)

Quiver (quiverquotes) | 7 comments Kalliope wrote: "Quiver wrote: "Kalliope wrote: "Quiver wrote: "I'm not proposing we swamp the chats with irrelevant details, but I personally find that the occasional amusing/differing account even of a minor char..."

Ah alright. It's much easier to write them down as I come across them, but I agree that's not helpful to anyone else. I might start collecting them in a source file :)


message 31: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) Thank you Kalliope for inviting me!

I happened to be reading the Ted Hughes version of Ovid when I got the invitation. This version is so lovely. But I've never read Ovid to READ OVID as my goal, although of course so many of the stories are familiar myths.

I just wrote a novel in which metamorphosis plays a very big role in the plot and that's why I'm reading the Hughes just now. Even though I'm done with the book, I started to be interested in the ways stories about human metamorphosis usually don't dwell on the story in terms of the person's reaction to his/her transformation. They are more written as cautionary tales--don't sleep with Zeus, ladies! These aren't really horror stories, even though it seems that it would be horrifying and probably really painful to have such a thing happen to you.

And I started to think: what if it was actually a wonderful thing to be turned into a tree or a cow? What if it was the most exhilarating thing imaginable?

There is a recent film that features men being turned into half-horses ("Sorry to Bother You") and at first it is painted as gruesome and truly terrifying but by the end of the movie the protagonist seems to be empowered by his own transformation. Which I find really interesting!

So anyway such have been my thoughts lately about metamorphosis.


message 32: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Lark wrote: "

I happened to be reading the Ted Hughes version of Ovid when I got the invitation. This version is so lovely. But I've never read Ovid to READ OVID as my goal, ..."


Thank you for this insight, Lark.

I think it was the Hughes book that led to the creation of this group...

On my side I have not thought much, yet, about the way books that tackle metamorphosis usually don't dwell on the reaction of the subject... but Kafka's book could be an example on one that does - to a certain extent. I read it long ago, though.


message 33: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Hi Lark, nice to meet you. Your comment about a person turning into a tree reminded me of The Vegetarian.


message 34: by Peter (new)

Peter (slawophilist) | 116 comments Salvete. I got aware of this group and had the courage to join it, as some of my most revered Goodreads friends had already joined it before. My appreciation for the Metamophoses stems from highschool (40 years ago), when we read parts in our Latin class. Now I look forward to reading the entire text. My mother tongue is German, so I will reach for a bilingual edition with the Latin verse translated into German prose. Keeping the hexameter (as in older translations) usually goes hand in hand with reduced proximity to the original.


message 35: by Elena (new)

Elena | 231 comments Thank you for inviting me to this group! I'm an archivist and obsessed with original documents. What is the best book on the surviving manuscripts of Ovid? I gather that there is nothing surviving from antiquity, only copies made in the Christian Middle Ages, by monks....who seem to have valued the poetry despite it's pagan source. Do I have this right? I think that the authenticity of the surviving text is important to determine from the very beginning of our discussions.


message 36: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Peter wrote: "Salvete. I got aware of this group and had the courage to join it, as some of my most revered Goodreads friends had already joined it before. My appreciation for the Metamophoses stems from highsch..."


Good to see you here, Peter. Please accept our excuses for not getting an invitation, but it is an open Group so anyone can join.

Glad you found it.


message 37: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments Elena wrote: "Thank you for inviting me to this group! I'm an archivist and obsessed with original documents. What is the best book on the surviving manuscripts of Ovid? I gather that there is nothing surviving ..."

Elena, I am glad you accepted. Your question can best be answered by someone who will tackle an edition in Latin. May be RC.


message 38: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) Thanks for the invite, Roman Clodia. This actually comes at the perfect time for me. I've been thinking about subjects for my phd but since it's been two years since my MA, i decided to go back and do an open uni course to get me back into the swing of things while I nail my proposal. The course... myth in the Greek and Roman worlds! (https://msds.open.ac.uk/students/stud...)

Obviously, Ovid and his reception is a big part of that.

So on the one hand, I can provide readings/articles as the come up (if they might be of some use/interest to the group). On the other, I can bounce ideas for my essays off you all and get top marks for everything...


message 39: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Excellent, Emma, great to have you join us!

PhD proposals are always odd: you want to sound like you know what you're talking about, but actually don't till you've started the research... and the actual thesis tends to evolve so radically that it ends up nothing like the proposal!


message 40: by Emma (new)

Emma (keeperofthearchives) Roman Clodia wrote: "Excellent, Emma, great to have you join us!

PhD proposals are always odd: you want to sound like you know what you're talking about, but actually don't till you've started the research... and the..."


That's exactly what happened with my MA! Honestly, if I followed my proposal, i'd still be writing now....


message 41: by Desirae (new)

Desirae Murray | 24 comments Good day fellow Ovidian lords and ladies alike, this poet is the most important man in the Roman Empire. The Greco-Roman tales he re-told to a Roman audience, gave modern readers how they viewed the world. Metamorphosis means "transformation" in Latin; therefore, all things change in response to nature and the gods themselves.
So, select your book and join the fun
Because the tale has only just begun.


message 42: by Caroline (new)

Caroline (carobibliophile) | 2 comments Hello, this is Caroline; thanks to Roger for the invitation to join. I listened to the Humphries translation about three years ago and found it marvelous. I also have the Golding and Humphries translations on paper (and the Slavitt, which I probably will ignore) and both After Ovid and Tales from Ovid to add alternate takes. I had one year of Latin in school.

I’m interested in the original period and how the work would have been written and received. Also, since I read a lot of modern works translated into English, how some of those authors have used the Metamorphoses and/or the concept.


message 43: by Roman Clodia (new)

Roman Clodia | 327 comments Welcome Caroline and Desirae! We'll be making a formal start with Book One next week - looking forward to it.


message 44: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 10 comments Roger wrote: "My copy of After Ovid arrived this evening by Amazon Prime. I've only glanced through it as yet, but wow! Four poems that Ted Hughes would later include in his book. Two by Seamus Heaney. Others by..."

So glad you got After Ovid: New Metamorphoses as it contains many of my favorite poets, specifically Northern Irish poets Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, and Paul Muldoon as well as other favorites Eavan Boland, Les Murray and Carol Duffy.
Would this fit more in the category of Ted Hughes book - incomplete but marvelous. I would certainly read the recommended translation (not in the "original" Latin) and dip into After Ovid for more inspiration.


message 45: by Jim (new)

Jim Puskas (wyenotgo) | 154 comments First off, Roger, thank you for inviting me to join the group. In so doing, I admit to some trepidation in view of my regrettable lack of a classical education. I will strive to avoid making a fool of myself.
I first became interested in Ovid due to my enjoyment of Opera, a pursuit that has occupied me for well over 40 years. Operatic composers and librettists have of course greatly enriched their art-form by appropriating tales and figures from mythologies of all sorts. In that vein, I just acquired a wonderful recording of Actéon by the Boston Early Music Ensemble. Like you, I'm most intrigued by how other artists in various disciplines have adapted the tales of Ovid.


message 46: by Roger (new)

Roger Brunyate | 419 comments Dear All,

Although I am a founding member and co-moderator of this group, I have been out of things for the past month, although some of my activity (on a series of art-history lectures) has been tangentially connected to Ovid in ways that continue to surprise me by their ubiquity. I am thrilled so see so many people sharing our interest, and the range of backgrounds you come from. Welcome all!

Talking of tangents and ubiquity, I think that when the three of us envisioned this group (Kalliope as the prime mover, but triggered by reviews and comments from Roman Clodia and myself), it was the Protean quality of the myths that most attracted us: the fact that they have inspired so much, been subject to so many changes, been expressed in so many media, been translated in so many ways—and remain relevant in surprising ways even today. So yes, tangents are welcome. I imagine we will all know if we get too far afield, but it would be wrong to let the fear of digression get in the way of discovery. Roger.


message 47: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 10 comments Jim wrote: "First off, Roger, thank you for inviting me to join the group. In so doing, I admit to some trepidation in view of my regrettable lack of a classical education. I will strive to avoid making a fool..."

I am also lacking a foundation in the classics but bit by bit I am filling in the gaps.


message 48: by Kalliope (new)

Kalliope | 610 comments A good companion for the Mythologies would be:

Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.

There is also Greek Gods and Heroes.

The Hamilton is shorter and I found it put everything in order (out of Chaos !!).. The Graves goes deeper into the various elements.

I will add them to the Group Shelves.


message 49: by Ce Ce (last edited Nov 05, 2018 04:56AM) (new)

Ce Ce (cecebe) | 44 comments Roman Clodia wrote: "It's so much fun to see the wide range of interests here including people who will be reading the Met. for the first time: I'm always fascinated to hear first impressions from readers approaching Ovid without 'baggage' as it were."

Hello, Clodia. Thank you to Kalliope for your invitation. I am one of the baggage-less. A fresh, clean and curious slate!


message 50: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (bdegar) | 10 comments That’d be me as well. Just ordered the Mandelbaum translation.


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