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Paperback Metamorphoses Book

ISBN: 0199537372

ISBN13: 9780199537372


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Book Overview

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: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has...

Customer Reviews

8 ratings

great translation, beautiful imagery, intriguing to reflect on humanity through the ages

My personal joy with this book comes from speculating what we can garner about our fundamental human values that we have in common and have shone through for millennia. Even if you're reading this as required reading, please don't overlook the opportunity to introspect and see what parallels you find today to the ideals & ideas Ovid conveys.

Not in Latin! but they gave me a refund!

I purchased a version that had [Latin] next to it, and when I got it, it wasn't in Latin!! Not helpful,tho the stories are still nice in English I am sure They gave me a full refund! great company even if they made this mistake

Disappointed because I didn’t get to read it

The book was extremely old and smelled really bad. I had to trash it because it wasn’t readable with that stench. Also had “Senior High School Library Huntington, PA” stamped all over it. Very disappointed, it was nowhere near “like new” or “good as new.” I could deal with the stamps, but the smell was gross.


I initially bought this book because it was a required reading for a class. I had no idea how wonderful this book was. The poetry is so beautiful it moves you. It provokes and engages readers with something new every time you read it. If you're a fan of Roman mythology, this is a must.

Excellent edition and translation

After reading the old Penguin edition of this work, I was amazed at the improvement in not only the translation, but the organization and supplemental material as well. The old edition I read was written in prose (yuck), the translation was was dry and boring, the text was not broken up into sections, and there were no notes to speak of. This edition, however, has really come a long way. The text has been translated into a more modern voice, making it much more user friendly and fun to read. And it's written in verse form (as is should be). The organization is top-notch: not only is it divided into "books", but is further divided into the individual stories with appropriate headings (like "Mars and Venus" and "Pyramus and Thisbe"), so it's easy to find your favorite myth and know where you are in the epic. There's also an excellent introduction to the entire work as well as introductions to each individual book, providing insights and background information. The notes in the back of the book are very comprehensive and helpful, adding greatly to your understanding of the work. On top of all that, there's a glossary of the characters in the back which not only tells you who they are, but where they are featured in the epic. And finally, as if there wasn't enough already, there's even a map in the back of Rome during Ovid's time. Needless to say, this edition is chock full of stuff to please both casual readers of the work and scholars looking to get a little more in-depth. I believe this is one of the most important and influential works of Western civilization, and everyone should have a copy. It's especially great for those who love Greek and Roman myths, since it's packed full of just about every classical myth ever conceived. And since it's broken down so nicely into individual stories and books, you can read a story here and there instead of the whole thing at once, if you choose. Though since all the stories are connected and flow seamlessly into one another, reading it through from beginning to end is very rewarding and highly recommended.

Superb Translation and Edition

This book is wonderful. The Rolfe Humphries is THE translation. This printing is also very nice. The paper, the type, everything makes it a good book. When you turn the page, it turns nicely and lies flat; how refreshing. The stories of the Metamorphoses are, of course, wonderful. It's the book itself that I want to talk about. The beautiful Waterhouse painting on the cover spans the front and part of the back covers. The line numbers at the top of each text page are those of the Latin text in the Loeb edition; how many translators would go to that kind of trouble for you? Rolfe Humphries' introduction is light, funny, and enjoyable. His love of his work shines through. The last line of his intro is, "So - here he is [Ovid], and I hope you like him." The table of contents is annotated, making it easy to find any major story you are looking for. I also love the designs at the beginning of each book/chapter: such details enhance my enjoyment of reading this edition. If you have never read Ovid's Metamorphoses, don't be intimidated. It is a collection of mythology stories, and you will find much that is probably familiar to you (Echo and Narcissus, Jason, Pygmalion, and more). If you are at all serious about literature, this is a basic building block in your knowledge. And even if you're not, it's just a damn good book. The translation itself is so fluent and enjoyable. Just listen to the introduction: My intention is to tell of bodies changed To different forms; the gods, who made the changes, Will help me - or so I hope - with a poem That runs from the world's beginning to our own days. This is exciting, eloquent stuff! Please do yourself a favor and make sure you read this at some point during your lifetime.

Cheapest translation; best poem

Horace Gregory's Ovid has been my Ovid since high school in the fifties. I'm on my third or fourth paperback copy, and the one I'm using now is held together by shipping tape in place of a spine. In my view no English translator of Ovid since the days of Golding and Marlowe has been half the poet Gregory is. His may not be the most accurate version for minutae, but it's sheer, transfixing poetry from end to end, fully living up to the Romans' own term for epic--perpetuum carmen, or "unending song." Here's a taste. Jove has just decided to end the world with a flood (partly because he fears the potency of his own thunderbolts): ...Auster he released, its darkWings over earth, the Nubian darknessDeeper than midnight, beard and long grey hairIn fall of rain, black forehead in wild clouds,Its great clapping hands thunder in the dark.Gregory's Medea grows wicked before your eyes. His Perseus is as clueless as Dudley DoRight. He makes a rousing, enveloping success of the battle of the centaurs and Lapiths, punctuated with the story of the utterly charming centaur filly Hylonome:Twice a day she washed her face and handsIn a bright waterfall that dropped from high green placesAbove Pagasa, then for further beauty(And twice a day) she bathed in that same water.She had fine taste in dress, and draped a shoulderOr a pointed breast with ermine, mink or fox.Gregory's Ovid can be mildly or uproariously funny, or utterly romantic. Here's Pygmalion, wonderstruck as his beloved statue comes alive. Surely Ovid's and maybe Gregory's feelings about their art are involved here as well:[He} kissed the sleeping lips, now soft, now warm,Then touched her breasts and cupped them in his hands;They were as though ivory had turned to waxAnd wax to life, yielding, yet quick with breath.Pygmalion, half-dazed, lost in his raptures,And half in doubt, afraid his senses failed him,Touched her again and felt his hopes come true,The pulse-beat stirring where he moved his hands.Then, as if words could never say enough,He poured a flood of praise to smiling Venus.He kissed the girl until she woke beneath him.Her eyes were shy; she flushed; yet her first lookSaw at one glance his face and Heaven above it.This is not just my favorite translation of the Metamorphoses. It's one of my favorite translations of anything, a great poem in its own right. Buy it.

Buy it, read it, then read it again

If you're wondering which translation to buy here's my opinion: get either the A.D. Melville (which has great notes about the text) or the Mendelbaum. Avoid Horace Gregory like the plague.

Metamorphoseon libri XV Mentions in Our Blog

Metamorphoseon libri XV in Such Sweet Sorrow: The Literary Legacy of Star-Crossed Lovers
Such Sweet Sorrow: The Literary Legacy of Star-Crossed Lovers
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • January 29, 2021

On this date in 1595, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was first performed (not officially published until 1597). Although the renowned tragedy was by no means the first literary story of doomed love, it coined the phrase "star-cross'd lovers" and continues to inspire heartbreaking sagas even today.

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