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Metamorphoses of Ovid
     

Metamorphoses of Ovid

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by Ovid
 

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Composed in Latin in the early years of the first century by the Roman poet Ovid, the Metamorphoses presents a collection of amazing tales of transformation based on Greek mythology and Roman legend. Ovid was the most gifted storyteller of his age, and the Metamorphoses is his masterpiece. It begins with the creation of the world and continues on to the founding of

Overview

Composed in Latin in the early years of the first century by the Roman poet Ovid, the Metamorphoses presents a collection of amazing tales of transformation based on Greek mythology and Roman legend. Ovid was the most gifted storyteller of his age, and the Metamorphoses is his masterpiece. It begins with the creation of the world and continues on to the founding of Rome and to the reign of the emperor Augustus in Ovid's own time.

Many of the great stories from Greek mythology can be found in the Metamorphoses, including those of Apollo and Daphne, Jupiter and Io, Actaeon, Narcissus and Echo, Pyramus and Thisbe, Daedalus and Icarus, Orpheus and Eurydice, Pygmalion, and Venus and Adonis. The genial narrator sails unperturbed through tale after tale of love and loss, quests and battles, violence and suffering, human striving and folly. Ovid's wit and verbal adroitness hasten the pace of the narrative and make the work supremely accessible.

Michael Simpson's prose translation in the rapid and direct American idiom catches the swiftness and clarity of the Latin original. His introduction sketches the poet's life, describes his extant works, discusses his unusual exile to the west coast of the Black Sea (where he died), and provides a useful context for reading the Metamorphoses. Simpson has also prepared extensive endnotes that serve as mini-essays, illuminating the manifold aspects of the poem and offering commentary and interpretation that enable readers to enter Ovid's magical world and enjoy its richness.

Editorial Reviews

Stuart Whitwell
It is staggering how literary developments of the era we call "postmodern" force us to read Ovid today with a familiarity missing, perhaps, for 2,000 years. Maybe that is why Christoph Ransmayr reframed the master's "Metamorphoses" a few years ago in his cunning, beautiful, and apocalyptic novel, "The Last World" (1990). At any rate, we can see now that the techniques of postmodernism have less to do with invention than with a nostalgia for faith and values in an age that forbids them: postmodernism is pretending irony when no irony is felt at all and hoping no one else feels the irony either. So it is that Ovid, in an age when a spot of atheism had begun to touch every thinking person's heart, decided to retell the myths of old. In such an atmosphere, plain telling of the ancient Greek myths would have made him seem a kindly buffoon, so by a series of devices, Ovid draws attention to the "act" of telling, switching abruptly from hymn to burlesque, forcing events to rhyme, enfolding tales within tales (even interrupting the teller), harping on motifs (like that of doubling), and in short, doing everything he can to let his audience say, "Didn't he tell that part well?"--and so believe and then unbelieve the moment the tale is over. And how could the respectable Augustine believe in these gods who rape, mock chastity, mock marriage, and bumble their way through disaster after disaster? Reading Mandelbaum's extraordinary translation, one imagines Ovid in his darkest moods with the heart of Baudelaire. Lines like these (much more circumspect in Humphries' famous translation) are brutal and black, particularly when they follow so hard on a passage of burlesque: "Then with a veil of heavy fog, the god / concealed a vast expanse of land; Jove stopped / her flight; he raped chaste Io." Mandelbaum's translation is brilliant. It throws off the stiff and mild homogeneity of former translations and exposes the vivid colors of mockery, laughter, and poison woven so beautifully by the master. Mandelbaum is not always the greatest poet, but he is the most extraordinary of translators, and this translation cannot be recommended more highly. We need Ovid. He is our brother. He is our face in the mirror.
Philadelphia Inquirer
The best version of Ovid's Metamorphoses available in English today... It is readable, alive, at times slangy, and actually catches Ovid's tone.

New York Review of Books
No one can deny the merits of Slavitt's version. His English hexameter is a great success—a supple, fluid, and versatile medium that does Ovid's loosening of the Virgilian line full justice. And at his best he is very good indeed.

— Bernard Knox

New York Review of Books - Bernard Knox
No one can deny the merits of Slavitt's version. His English hexameter is a great success—a supple, fluid, and versatile medium that does Ovid's loosening of the Virgilian line full justice. And at his best he is very good indeed.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780606038577
Publisher:
Demco Media
Publication date:
01/28/1955
Series:
Penguin Classics Series

Meet the Author

David R. Slavitt, poet, novelist, critic, and journalist, has published more than fifty books. His translations include the Metamorphoses of Ovid, The Fables of Avianus, the "Eclogues" and "Georgics" of Virgil, and Seneca: The Tragedies, Vols. 1 and 2, all available from Johns Hopkins.

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The Metamorphoses of Ovid 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a college class that revolved around books of transformation, and I admit to a struggle trying to keep up with Ovid's stories of the gods. Also, I have a new awareness of how often these stories of mythology are included in modern writings. It was a struggle, but I am so glad for the struggle.