Metamorphoses (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Metamorphoses, by Ovid, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a ...
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The Metamorphoses (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Metamorphoses, by Ovid, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

 

First published in 8 A.D., Ovid’s Metamorphoses remains one of the most accessible and attractive avenues to the riches of Greek mythology. Beginning with the creation of the universe and ending with the death and deification of Julius Caesar, Ovid’s masterful epic poem features a rich assortment of tales, including those of Jason and the Argonauts, Orpheus and Eurydice, the Trojan War, Echo and Narcissus, the slaying of the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, Hercules, Aeneas and Dido, the wedding of Perseus and Andromeda, and many others. These stories all have one element in common: transformation. Mortals become gods, animals turn to stone, and humans change into flowers, trees, or stars. Mingling pathos, humor, beauty, and cruelty, Ovid reveals how the endless ebb and flow of the universe itself is mirrored in the often paradoxical and always arbitrary fate of the poem’s characters, both human and divine.

A cosmic comedy of manners, Metamorphoses was read with delight in Ovid’s own time and continues to charm audiences today, providing a treasure trove of myth and legend from which the whole of Western art and literature has derived incalculable inspiration.

Robert Squillace teaches Cultural Foundations courses in the General Studies Program of New York University. He has published extensively on the field of modern British literature, most notably in his study Modernism, Modernity and Arnold Bennett (Bucknell University Press, 1997). His recent teaching has involved him deeply in the world of the ancients. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the medievalist Angela Jane Weisl. Squillace also wrote the Introduction and Notes for the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Homer’s Odyssey.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082765
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 129,295
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Squillace teaches Cultural Foundations courses in the General Studies Program of New York University. He has published extensively on the field of modern British literature, most notably in his study Modernism, Modernity and Arnold Bennett (Bucknell University Press, 1997). His recent teaching has involved him deeply in the world of the ancients. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the medievalist Angela Jane Weisl. Squillace also wrote the Introduction and Notes for the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Homer’s Odyssey.
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Read an Excerpt

From Robert Squillace’s Introduction to The Metamorphoses

From today’s perspective, Ovid stands almost precisely at the midpoint of literary history; the preservation of language in Egyptian hieroglyphics and Mesopotamian cuneiform began about as many centuries before his lifetime as he himself lived before the era of e-texts and digital printing. While the dating of past history was certainly less precise in Roman times than it is now, from his own vantage point Ovid could see that centuries of written tradition preceded him; indeed, an allusive engagement with previous poetry already marked his Hellenistic forebears. More than any of his other works, the Metamorphoses expresses Ovid’s acute sense of the massive accumulation of history and legend, attempting as it does to "bring down [its] song in unbroken strains from the world’s very beginning even unto the present time.” Moreover, the poem is shaped to induce in its readers an experience of peering down vertiginous historical depths. Just as modern works on the history of Earth often note that the arrival of humanity on the planet would correspond, on a twenty-four-hour clock, to just a minute or two before midnight, so Ovid’s poem sets foot on the mainland of Italy only in the fourteenth of its fifteen books; further, this epic of universal history reaches the events of Ovid’s own lifetime just sixty lines before the end of its final book. Indeed, the poet’s consciousness of time would be impossible had centuries of written records not been available to him. When, again in book XV, Ovid has the pre-Socratic philosopher Pythagoras base his perception of the eternal flux of existence on a myriad of such facts as the changing courses of rivers, the erosion of peninsulas into islands, and the gradual decline of once-mighty cities into barren plains, the poet assumes a world in which the permanence of writing makes it possible to know intimately the enormous distance between past and present by the comparison of what is to what texts say had once been.

In singing the tale of ceaseless change, of course, Ovid implicitly raises the question of his own relevance to readers of a later time. Over the nearly 2,000 years since the appearance of the Metamorphoses, the plan of the poem itself inspires one to ask whether the ceaseless flow of cultural change has left Ovid’s magnum opus a bare and sterile field, fit only to furnish material for a kind of archaeological study of what poetry no longer is, to serve as a morgue of dead men’s tales? Can a readership so distant from Augustan Rome embrace a work so dependent on its reader’s intimacy with Greco-Roman myth—with the life of Hercules, the travels of the Argonauts, the course of the Trojan War, the adulteries of Jupiter, and many other stories far less familiar than these to a modern audience—that it often alludes only by the slightest gesture, the verbal equivalent of a raised eyebrow, to the main features of these tales, concentrating instead on the microscopic details of what even for Romans were generally their lesser-known episodes?

While the Metamorphoses may demand more work from a modern reader and more annotation from an editor than a self-contained narrative like the Odyssey, in other ways—compared to, say, Homer or Hesiod—Ovid stands almost in our midst. The authors of the Greek epics, like the anonymous creators of the Egyptian Book of the Dead or the ancient Near Eastern epic Gilgamesh, lived in a world where the transmission of stories occurred primarily by word of mouth, and such written texts as did exist primarily served the needs of public performance. Even for the playwrights and philosophers of the Athenian "golden age” of the fifth century B.C.E., the idea of reading a text to oneself was at best peculiar and at worst intellectually suspect—Plato in particular thought writing a poor alternative to speech, which sharpened the memory and allowed for a logical exchange of ideas, rather than the mere repetition of the writer’s words in the reader’s mouth. But Ovid was a writer in something much closer to the modern sense, composing and revising his works with an eye to their reception by a literate audience of private readers—indeed, Ovid is one of the earliest writers explicitly to imagine his work being read by women as well as men. Removing the distribution of stories from the public realm, in fact, made them far more available to women, who were often consigned to purely private lives (similarly, many centuries later the rise of the novel, the genre most devoted to the domestic realm, owes itself both to women readers and women writers). Indeed, Roman practices of book distribution are similar enough to ours that classicists commonly refer to the "publication” of works during this period. The subjects of the Roman empire did not purchase books from stores, but volumens (scrolls) or codices (unbound sheets) from professional copyists; or, more likely, they read them in libraries. Regardless, they consumed them privately, as we do now.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 46 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2006

    Incredibly accessible translation

    I have trouble with the 'endless poem' format used in so many classic translations. This is much much better. Miller's prose is FANTASTIC. I found myself going back over the text numerous times from being so impressed. Not to mention the timeless beauty of Ovid's mythology.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    No Happy Endings.

    Publius Ovidius Naso was born in 43 B.C and died in 18 A.D.
    He was banished for unknown reasons to Tomi, a barren place near the coast of the Black Sea. A few scholars believe that this was a literary hoax created by Ovid himself. It would enable him to write the 'Tristia' and 'Letters From The Black Sea'.
    'Metamorphoses' is his main achievement. It contains 250 stories from the Greek Mythology and they all have in common that the principal character changes into another form. Most of the time they turn into an animal or a tree but also in a river, a constellation of stars, a rock or a flower and other pleasant surprises.

    If you read this book you won't find many happy endings. The ancient Greeks didn't know the meaning of that expression.
    It's not an easy read but if you persist it will be a rewarding literary experience.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Amazing translation.

    One of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written, in my opinion. This translation was perfect, fluid, and what I believe to be easy for all to fall in love with.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 16, 2012

    A great read!

    I highly recommend this book. It's a great way to experience a large compilation of stories about the greek gods. It is extremely entertaining, even if you're just reading it for school.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    Question?

    The translation of the book is actually not that bad of a translation, but why is the ebook slightly different from the regular text - cover included?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    the original mythology

    Ovid wrote this when people still believed in the stories of the gods. Whether its was good story telling or the true beliefs this is a book to add to your collection. The writing is a little different. It is concidered poetry but in this particular barnes and noble classic it is written more like a novel. I say definetly worth the reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2006

    ( un ) pleasant surprises and no happy endings.

    Publius Ovidius Naso was born in 43 B.C and died in 18 A.D. He was banished for unknown reasons to Tomi, a barren place near the coast of the Black Sea. A few scholars believe that this was a literary hoax created by Ovid himself. It would enable him to write the 'Tristia' and 'Letters From The Black Sea'. 'Metamorphoses' is his main achievement. It contains 250 stories from the Greek Mythology and they all have in common that the principal character changes into another form. Most of the time they turn into an animal or a tree but also in a river, a constellation of stars, a rock or a flower and other pleasant surprises. If you read this book you won't find many happy endings. The ancient Greeks didn't know the meaning of that expression. It's not an easy read but if you persist it will be a rewarding literary experience

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2001

    I love Ovid

    It was that i came to hear of Ovid thru Stanely Kubrick's film 'Eyes wide shut':his name is dropped in the opening Christams party scene by a man who's trying to put the moves on a woman. Forget that anyways:I wondered who he was, i found out he was a writer and i wanted to read something by him, someone told me that i should start with 'The Metamorphoses'. They were correct. It's a wonderful book, most of the myth i am already aware of. Ovid's words and storytelling ability are a truly great thing, there is so much heart in this book. I think it is an eternal classic!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    Definitely a great read. The translation is wonderful, and I lov

    Definitely a great read. The translation is wonderful, and I loved the way Ovid skims through all of his stories. It is pretty different from such classical writers like Virgil and Homer, but overall I think this makes it an easier read. Not to mention it's a must read if you like Greek/Roman mythology.
    The only complaint I have is regarding the citation for the cover image. It's cited as "Pygmallion and Galatea" by Francios Boucher, but it's really "Jupiter and Callisto" (though it's by the same artist). Not a big deal, but it puzzeled me for a while.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted June 1, 2011

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    Posted November 20, 2012

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    Posted August 24, 2009

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