The Metamorphoses of Ovid / Edition 1

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"Ovid's sensuous and witty poem brings together a dazzling array of mythological tales, ingeniously linked by the idea of transformation - often as a result of love or lust - where men and women find themselves magically changed into new and sometimes extraordinary beings. Beginning with the creation of the world and ending with the deification of Augustus, Ovid interweaves many of the best-known myths and legends of ancient Greece and Rome, including Daedalus and Icarus, Pyramus and Thisbe, Pygmalion, Perseus and Andromeda, and the fall of Troy. Erudite but light-hearted, dramatic and yet playful, the Metamorphoses has influenced writers and artists throughout the centuries from Shakespeare and Titian to Picasso and Ted Hughes." The edition contains an introduction discussing the life and work of Ovid as well as a preface to each book, explanatory notes and an index of people, gods and places.

This new translation reproduces in modern idiom the graceful, fluent style of one of the great poets of classical antiquity.

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801847981
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/19/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 312,431
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

A Note on This Translation 3
Bk. I The Shaping of Changes 13
Bk. II Of Mortal Children and Immortal Lusts 49
Bk. III The Wrath of Juno 89
Bk. IV Spinning Yarns and Weaving Tales 121
Bk. V Contests of Arms and Song 157
Bk. VI Of Praise and Punishment 187
Bk. VII Of the Ties that Bind 221
Bk. VIII Impious Acts and Exemplary Lives 261
Bk. IX Desire, Deceit, and Difficult Deliveries 301
Bk. X The Songs of Orpheus 339
Bk. XI Rome Begins at Troy 367
Bk. XII Around and About the Iliad 405
Bk. XIII Spoils of War and Pangs of Love 435
Bk. XIV Around and About with Aeneas 479
Bk. XV Prophetic Acts and Visionary Dreams 519
Notes 555
Persons, Places, and Personifications in the Metamorphoses 577
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 6, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2004


    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.

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